A tribute to PBA’s own
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2020 - 12:00am

Since the end of the recent Southeast Asian Games, the PBA has been paying tribute to the Filipino athletes who’ve brought honor to the country in the Philippines’ most successful campaign ever in the biennial regional competition. The tribute is held at halftime and it’s been going on from the start of the Governors Cup semifinals.

Among those who’ve been recognized are teams in men’s and women’s 5x5 and 3x3 basketball, sepak takraw, boxing, cycling and downhill skateboarding. Surfer Roger Casogay was also cited. PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said it’s the PBA’s way of celebrating the Philippines’ overall championship in the SEA Games with the fans.

At halftime of tonight’s Game 5 in the Governors Cup finals, two of the PBA’s own will be honored – GlobalPort franchise owner Rep. Mikee Romero and legend Samboy Lim’s daughter Jamie. The recognition will be particularly special because both Romero and Lim are part of the PBA family. They will each receive a certificate of appreciation from the PBA.

Romero led the Philippine polo team to a bronze medal in the 0-2 low goal event in the SEA Games. Malaysia took the gold medal with a perfect 3-0 record and a +10.5 goal difference. Brunei finished second with a 2-0-1 mark and a +3 goal difference. The Philippines engaged both Malaysia and Brunei in close contests. With Romero at the helm, the Philippines came close to scoring upsets but eventually lost to Malaysia, 6-5 1/2, and to Brunei, 5-4.

Romero not only played for the Philippines but was also credited for producing the world-class Miguel Romero Polo Field in Calatagan, Batangas, named after his son, where the low goal event was held. Romero was involved in three previous SEA Games as manager of the Philippine basketball team in 2007, NSA president of cycling in 2009 and NSA president of shooting in 2011. In his fourth SEA Games participation and his first as an athlete in the Sport of Kings, Romero has broken barriers and set a milestone in Philippine sports history.

Lim bagged the kumite gold in the +61 kilogram category in karate at the recent SEA Games. She dedicated her podium finish to the Skywalker who is wheelchair-bound after suffering a cardiac arrest in 2014. Lim beat 2015 world champion and 2019 Asian silver medalist Zeyco Sefanya of Indonesia, 2-1, in a rousing final before a cheering home crowd. The next day, she brought her gold medal to her father and got Skywalker’s hand to touch it. Samboy won two gold medals in basketball at the SEA Games and Jamie has preserved the family legacy by transitioning to the next generation.

Lim arrived from a karate competition in Santiago, Chile, yesterday with teammates Junna Tsukii, Ivan Agustin and Alwyn Batican. Coach Chino Veguillas accompanied the team to the series 1 tournament where world-ranked karatekas participated to accumulate points for the Olympics. It was the Filipino team’s first foray in a high-grade karate meet. The squad was in Chile for a week.

In Chile, Lim won her first match, downing hometowner Paz Gonzalez, 3-0, then lost to Ukraine’s Halyna Melnyk who eventually took the bronze medal in the -68 kilogram class. The only medalist in the Philippine delegation was Tsukii who brought home the bronze in the -50 kilogram category.

Lim’s mother Lelen Berberabe said Philippine Karatedo Federation president Ricky Lim and national coach Okay Arpa of Turkey are now preparing a program to get the Philippine team ready for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Paris in May. Lim, who took up karate when she was six and earned her black belt at 18, admitted it’s a long shot to make it to the Tokyo Games but she’s determined. “It’s a long shot to qualify just like it was a long shot to win gold in the SEA Games,” said Lim. “But I’m going for it.”

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