More wishes for 2018
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2018 - 12:00am

Here are the next five of our 20 wishes for 2018. The last five wishes will be listed in tomorrow’s column. 

• More Filipino world boxing champions. There were four reigning Filipino titlists at the end of 2016 and only two at the end of last year. The last two standing are IBF flyweight king Donnie Nietes who’s 35 and IBF superflyweight ruler Jerwin Ancajas who’s 26. Three Filipinos lost their crowns last year. Marlon Tapales was stripped of his WBO bantamweight belt when he failed to make the 118-pound limit in his defense against Shohei Omori in Osaka last April. Manny Pacquiao was dethroned as WBO welterweight king by Jeff Horn in Brisbane last July. And Milan Melindo gave up his IBF lightflyweight belt to WBA counterpart Ryoichi Taguchi in a unification duel in Tokyo last Sunday.

Lined up for a title shot is Mercito Gesta who faces WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares in Inglewood, California, on Jan. 27. Expected to fight for the crown this year are Pacquiao, Brian Viloria, Nonito Donaire, Jr., Jonas Sultan, Tapales and Robert Paradero.

• UAAP rules to be applied fair and square. The UAAP Board of Managing Directors is scheduled to meet in a rules workshop this month with the goal of straightening out regulations for the next three years. School presidents have formed a higher body to set policies and resolve issues unsettled at the Board level. La Salle’s two-time league MVP Ben Mbala was prejudiced by the Board when he was ordered to serve a second year of residency upon transferring from Southwestern University in Cebu.

Mbala left the league for good last month despite a year left of eligibility because the Board was set to reapply a rule that had been suspended the last two campaigns and which would have made the Cameroonian ineligible next season. The rule limits a senior athlete to seven years of eligibility after high school graduation but is no longer relevant because of the K-to-12 system. Mbala would’ve been prejudiced once more if he stayed at La Salle with the Board set to return the previously suspended rule.

• Building the National Sports Training Center. Last April, Rep. Conrad Estrella and Rep. Karlo Nograles submitted House Bill No. 5615 to the House of Representatives. It’s an act establishing a sports complex known as the National Sports Training Center and providing funds for the acquisition of property, the construction of facilities and the administration, maintenance and management of the center.

The House later approved the bill on third reading. The location for the center is the Clark Green City at the Clark special economic zone. Estimated period of construction is 18 months. What is the status of the act? Has the Senate deliberated on it? Has it been brought to the President for final approval? Is it now a law? The wish is to get it started this year.

• Renaissance in bowling. Krizziah Tabora won the World Cup last year, ending a 14-year drought for the Philippines on the throne in either the men’s or women’s division. Paeng Nepomuceno bagged it in 1976, 1980, 1992 and 1996, Lita de la Rosa in 1978, Bong Coo in 1979 and C. J. Suarez in 2003. Will Tabora’s victory trigger another Golden Era for Philippine bowling? Nepomuceno, now the Philippine head coach, gathered the elite bowlers for national team pool tryouts last Tuesday. The tryouts end tomorrow.

“We’ll be choosing eight men and eight women to comprise our 2018 national pool,” Nepomuceno said. “We definitely have to work harder. We’ll have our usual two international exposures before the Asian Games. A positive sign is the Philippine Bowling Federation (PBF) has received official recognition from World Bowling and the Asian Bowling Federation as our NSA with Sen. Tito Sotto as chairman and Steve Hontiveros as president. No more leadership issues no more political problems. The PBF is focused on rebuilding our competitiveness in world bowling.”

• Martinez back on ice.  The country’s top figure skater Michael Martinez performed in five competitions last year and his highest finish was second for the silver medal at the SEA Games. He failed to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics after placing 24th at the World Championships and eighth at the Nebelhorn Trophy. At 21, Martinez has a lot more skating years left but he’s been inactive since September. He’s on his own in California and carving a path for the future but it’s not certain if competitive skating is still in his agenda.

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