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Who's Your 2016 Athlete of the Year?

Composite Image via Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The year 2016 has been great for Philippine Sports. It put the country in various sporting maps, and it became a witness to two grand international events.

In this PhilStar.com entry, we shine the spotlight on the athletes — who through their stellar plays, and the persistence they’ve shown, make for a great storyline.

And while we have already plucked the nominees ourselves, we’re letting you, our dear readers, pick who we should revere as the year comes to a close.

Here are the SportsHub’s bets for 2016 Athlete of the Year:

Ben Mbala

College Basketball
Center, De La Salle University Green Archers

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The Cameroonian, who was plucked from the Southwestern University in the Visayas, finally played in the UAAP. After sitting out three years to fulfill residency requirements, he lived up to the hype — having immediate impact on DLSU’s game, snaring the league Most Valuable Player citation in runaway fashion; and eventually, after 17 games, the championship.

Hidilyn Diaz

Weightlifing
Silver medalist, Rio de Janeiro Olympics

Hidilyn Diaz ended the Philippines' 20-year Olympic medal drought when she bagged silver in weightlifting in the Rio Games. She is the first Filipina and Mindanaoan to bag an Olympic medal and the first non-boxer to do so since 1936. Here’s to hoping her Olympic success is just a start of more medal hauls for the country in the future.

June Mar Fajardo

Pro Basketball
Center, San Miguel Beermen

At 26, June Mar Fajardo has rewritten his entry to the Philippine basketball lore. As if his initial achievements weren’t enough, the Cebuano big man furthered his legend by becoming the first PBA cager to win back-to-back-to-back MVP citations. He moves one hardware shy from joining Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio who have won four in their illustrious careers.

Eduard Folayang

Mixed Martial Arts
Lightweight, ONE Championship

For the longest time, Eduard Folayang had been the face of Philippine mixed martial arts. He had snared various gems for his crown. But for nine long years, a world championship from a global fight promotion proved to be elusive. He ended that drought against legendary submission master Shinya Aoki via a a gritty, ground and pound showing to become a lightweight kingpin and to complete his career arc.

Janelle Mae Frayna

Chess
Grand Master, Chess Olympiad

20-year-old Janelle Mae Frayna became the first Filipina chess Grandmaster after clinching the third and final WGM title in the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Josephine Medina

Table Tennis
Bronze medalist, Paralympic Games

Josephine Medina bagged the country's lone medal in the Paralympic Games. She won bronze in table tennis and was the first medalist since powerlifter Adeline Dumapong bagged bronze in 2000.

Manny Pacquiao

Boxing
WBO Welterweight

As polarizing as he is, Manny Pacquiao — at age 38 — showed the world that his fists still packed the punch. After beating Timothy Bradley to cap their trilogy, he returned retirement to beat Jessie Vargas and to become a WBO welterweight champion. And oh, he did that while being a Senator of the Republic.

Alyssa Valdez

Volleyball
BOC-Transformers, Shakey's V-League

Although the Ateneo Lady Eagles fell short in defending their UAAP crown, Alyssa Valdez still had a good year. She bagged her third straight UAAP MVP award and was named UAAP Athlete of the Year. She copped the Conference MVP in the 13th Shakey's V-League Reinforced Conference and was named Most Popular Sports Personality in the Push Awards 2016. She is also eyed by Thai club volleyball team 3BB Nakornnont as a guest player next year.

Have you decided? Sound-off with your pick via our poll:

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