Game of Life

Alabang Country Club
November 29, 2015
Game of Life

I was supposed to write about Kiefer Ravena sharing his MVP trophy with Kevin Ferrer, a rival inside the basketball court and a friend outside it.
Passed up on it and just slept.
When I woke up, I thought about writing boxer Tyson Fury, who stunned Wladimir Klitschko to crown himself new heavy champion and making the dying sport something to watch out for again.

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I changed my mind though when I ran into the Grappas and their coach Charlie Ramos in my sortie covering the Alaska Football Cup here at this Heaven-sent spacious venue here in Alabang. The Grappas, for the unitiated, is Don Bosco Foundation’s football team composed of eager kids from poor families. Some of them were street children given a new lease on life by these generous people from, bless their hearts, Don Bosco.
Michael himself is a story in itself.

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He’s 26 years old. A wandering kid from Pampanga picking up garbage for a living when he was still a child to help his family bring food to the table. Although public schools give free education to those who couldn’t afford it, Michael was unable to go to school as he is forced into child labor by painful circumstances. Despite poverty, he managed to finish high school. He coudn’t afford college though and went back to doing work.
And then Col. Roy Auro, Sr. found him, gave him free college education with only one thing in return: Teach unfortunate kids like him football for free as soon as he finishes college. Michael agreed.
“Col. Auro, Sr. is my head coach since I was young. Ang dream nya mag turo kami ng football for free sa public na walang pambayad. Nakapagcollege ako because of Col. Auro,” says Michael.

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Today, Michael is living a dream. He is doing what he loves most–teaching. He is teaching not just children of football, but also more blessed people like us to give back the blessings we’re receiving.
This, my friends, is the game of life.

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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Money Isn’t Everything

Intramuros, Manila
November 27, 2015
Money Isn’t Everything

Aldin Ayo has officially bid goodbye to Letran.
Ayo left because he accepted a lucrative contract with La Salle to take over from the resigned Juno Sauler. There were news going around that the money involved is somewhere in the viscinity of P9 million for three years. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for Ayo. Coaching for a glamour, big-moneyed school, Ayo just couldn’t resist the temptation and decided to plunge into the abyss.
Good for La Salle.
It got a young, talented coach who has the heart of a champion and whose meal ticket is his analytics-based style of coaching. If he can lead a rag-tag Letran team to a championship that practically everybody didn’t expect, there is a big chance he can replicate it with the Archers. Why not? La Salle has the material. It’s a matter of these Archers buying into Ayo’s system and Ayo bowing a little to this team that has utterly underachieved this UAAP season.
But with Ayo, the sky is the limit for La Salle.
As for Letran, Ayo’s sudden departure, left it heartbroken.
And they could have fought back. After all, Ayo has three years left in his contract with the school. Or at least make money out of it as La Salle was reportedly willing to buy out Ayo’s remaining contract. And everybody goes home happy.
But no.
Accepting La Salle’s offer and engaging Ayo and La Salle in a legal battle will betray what Letran stands for. Integrity. Faith. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Letting go. Values the Dominican Order has taught its countless number of students for centuries now.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is more important than money.
Nor victory.
So I take a bow to this Letran institution for teaching us all that there is hope in this temptation-filled world.
As the old saying goes, “Losing isn’t always the end, sometimes it becomes the beginning.”

Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

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Can the Warriors breach the NBA longest streak at 33?

A re-post from NBA Philippines
Thursday / November 26 / 2015
Can the Warriors breach the NBA longest streak at 33?
Joey Villar

Golden State Warriors skipper Stephen Curry. (AP File Photo)MANILA, Philippines – The Golden State Warriors hold the best start in NBA history after nailing their 16th straight win with an 111-77 rout of Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers recently. They eclipsed the 15-0 starts by the Washington Capitols of 1948-49 and the 1993-94 Houston Rockets.

And this early, the Warriors are being touted to challenge the longest streak of all time at 33 wins by the 1971-72 Lakers.
But really, is it possible?
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The last team that came close to breaching that 43-year-old Lakers record was LeBron James’ 2012-13 Miami Heat that won 27 straight, only to fall to the Chicago Bulls, 97-101, on March, 27, 2013 (US time). The 2007-08 Houston Rockets of Tracy McGrady won 22 straight, making them the club with the third longest streak.
In the pecking order of things, Golden State is tied with seven other teams at 16th place with a 16-game streak. It included their own selves last year when they racked up 16 straight from November to December.
Back to the question: Can they?
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For Golden State to surpass the record, it will need 18 more wins to achieve it.
Perusing at the schedule, the Warriors will play half of their next 18 foes in the upper half of their conferences. Meaning, if the playoffs are to be played now, they will be playing nine playoff contenders.
Worse, five of those they will play in their first seven games namely Phoenix (7-8, 7th in West), Utah (7-7, 6th), Charlotte (9-6, 6th in East), Toronto (10-6, 5th) and Indiana (9-5, 3rd). Sacramento (6-10, 12th) and Brooklyn (3-12, 14th) were the other two teams in the schedule during that span.
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I mentioned their next seven games because if Golden State can win all of it, it will surpass the Rockets as the team with the league’s third longest streak.
And now we’ll start looking at the Heat, which is another five victories away from being caugtht up. Their next five foes are Boston (8-7, 9th), Milwaukee (6-9, 13th), Utah, Cleveland (11-4, 1st) and Sacramento. It will be an easier stretch considering that only the Jazz and the Cavs are in the top eight of their conferences.
So looking at their next 12 opponents, it’s really tough to say if the Warriors can continue their astronomical streak.
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The key, of course, is the first 12 games because the last six will be little less difficult considering only Dallas (9-7, 5th) and Charlotte are considered contenders. The other four are Houston (5-10, 13th), Denver (6-9, 10th), Los Angeles Lakers (2-12, 15th) and Portland (6-10, 11th).
Of course, all of this will be meaningless if they lose a game anytime now. But if the Warriors can break through the first two phases, then let’s start thinking about it.
For now, we can only be observers to history being made by the Warriors.
If No. 34 happens, then let’s talk about the Greatest Team ever.
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Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

Arriba, Animo Ayo

MOA Arena
November 25, 2015
Arriba, Animo Ayo

Who is Aldin Ayo?
This was the same question I asked the first time I wrote about the man last June.
You probably know Ayo now.
If not, he just led the Letran Knights to a first NCAA championship in almost a decade by slaying the once mighty San Beda Lions.
He also silenced his critics and the people who underestimated him, including yours truly. I welcome the championship rebuke because his is an inspiring story after he steered a Letran team that wasn’t even given a chance to make the Final Four, much more win a title, to a championship to remember.
And Ayo did it without the benefit of foreign players as his Knights were one of the few NCAA teams that played all-Filipino the whole season.
So yes, that is Aldin Ayo.
But hours ago, Snow Badua of spin.ph called yours truly if I had Ayo’s cellphone number. I told him I didn’t have it. Never had. And I don’t know why. Usually, us sportswriters, when we meet a coach, or anyone who could be a potential “source” for a story, we get his or her number. But I didn’t. A big mistake on my part.
Don’t mistake it as hatred. Nope. Ayo and I had our differences but we’re civil. Not enemies. In fact, my last interview with Ayo was in Game Three of the NCAA Finals, just moments after the Knights brought down the Lions to claim the crown. I remember him ribbing me that Sportsmaryosep, my personal blog site, is one of his inspirations to excel this season. Why? Because, I was one of the doubters.
And he proved me wrong.
Apparently, Snow wrote about Ayo being likely to succeed resigned Juno Sauler as new La Salle coach.
Upon reading it at first, I thought it’s witchhunting. How can someone who just steered a school to a championship leave for another school and league in the same year? Unbelievable, right?
For the record, Ayo has a four-year contract with Letran. Not with Manny Pacquiao, but with Letran. So after this year, Ayo will have three years left to burn and perhaps win one or two more championships. So knowing that, I thought it’s not happening.
But after talking to very reliable sources, I’ve learned three things: 1. Ayo has allegedly met with chief La Salle backer Danding Cojuangco and the whole Archers team at the New World Hotel in Makati (Wednesday night), 2. Ayo has allegedly told his players that this is his last year with the Knights without saying why, and 3. Letran officials weren’t aware that Ayo is allegedly leaving.
So piecing it together, it is likely that Ayo is the new La Salle coach.
And I expect La Salle to make the official announcement anytime now.
But I’m bothered.
I mean, how can Ayo do it (if the news is true)? I’m sure some people in Letran and even the NCAA will not like it. When you make a commitment or even pledge, wether it’s put in a contract or not, you have to honor it. I mean, Ayo gave his word to Letran.
I also ask myself, what if I’m in Ayo’s shoes? I will probably accept it. I mean it’s La Salle. A big school, big-moneyed team in a mammoth league. Who is Ayo to refuse such tempting offer? I’ll probably say yes too. Damn the consequences.
So really, it’s hard to hate Ayo. Letran gave him a chance. He returned the favor by giving the school a precious championship.
So there.
Now I ask again, who is Aldin Ayo?

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Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar

(Photo courtesy of spin.ph)