Freeman Cebu Sports

From live NBA action to global boxing show Cokaliong relishes watching Pacquiao fight live in Macau

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - After watching the first ever NBA pre-season game on Philippine soil featuring the Indiana Pacers and the Houston Rockets last month in Manila, noted businessman-sportsman Chester C. Cokaliong once again aligned himself with history although this time in an entirely different sporting ground.

Being the founder of the Cebu Eastern College Alumni Basketball Association (CECABA), the second longest existing alumni-based cage league in this side of the archipelago, Cokaliong has always been associated with the sport closest to his heart both as a decorated player gifted with prolific shooting skills and as an organizer non pareil.

But Cokaliong, a 22-time 3-point shootout champion, 14-time All-Star MVP and eight-time scoring champion in his storied career in local hoopdom, momentarily set aside his passion for shooting hoops to treat himself and his family to a relatively new experience - a blockbuster boxing card topbilled by Manny Pacquiao in Macau last Sunday.

Cokaliong, his affable wife Anna Lynne and their children Chase, Chesna, Chanel and Chaz were among the sold-out crowd of 11,200 who witnessed the ground-breaking event at the Cotai Arena of the luxurious Vetetian Hotel and Casino in the famous Chinese territory widely considered as the Las Vegas of Asia.

Cokaliong is level at ringside seats worth a fortune with football superstar David Beckham and American socialite Paris Hilton among other celebrities who watched the glitzy show but that is beyond his mind as he delights most in cheering for the Filipino sports hero in what is by far the most crucial bout of his fistic career.

"It was really our intention to watch Pacquiao vs. Rios in Macau. Ever since the fight was announced, we were waiting for the tickets to go on sale. I think we were among the first to buy tickets online last July 29 since we eagerly waited for the clock to strike 10 that morning when the tickets went on sale," recounted Cokaliong who, aside from boxing and basketball, is also an avid fanatic of car racing, billiards and soccer.

The Macau sojourn of the Cokaliongs was even made more wonderful and meaningful after Pacquiao hammered his way to a one-sided demolition of Rios, whom the eight-division world champion mercilessly turned into a human punching bag on the way to clinch the WBO International welterweight crown.

"Watching Pacquiao fight was a spectacular, but at the same time a stressful experience because we wanted Pacquiao to win, and thank God he did," said Cokaliong.

The resounding triumph did not only herald Pacquiao's shining return to the boxing echelon after back-to-back defeats to Tim Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez, it also gave joy and brief respite to tens of thousands of his countrymen who are still grieving and in the process of rebuilding their lives after being battered by super typhoon Yolanda three weeks ago.

"Pacquiao's convincing win against Rios did not only put himself back on top of the sport, but it also brought great hope and pride to Filipinos who are still reeling from the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda. He truly is the People’s Champ," said Cokaliong.

As far as he is concerned, the two-time awardee by the Sportswriters Association of Cebu (SAC) said the fighting congressman from Sarangani province still has what it takes to keep on his journey towards ring greatness.

"Pacquiao was too fast and too furious for Rios. He still has the speed and intensity of a true champion boxer. He is far from retirement," said Cokaliong.

From a live NBA game to a boxing spectacle of global magnitude, Cokaliong felt a deep sense of pride within him for having witnessed the two landmark events in the chronicles of Asian sports.

"I’m very happy that these games and matches are coming to Asia. These are experiences that I’ll never forget in my life," said Cokaliong. (FREEMAN)

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