We could be champs
SPORTS EYE - Raffy Uytiepo (The Freeman) - November 12, 2019 - 12:00am

When we hosted the 1991 SEA Games, the newly-formed Philippine Sports Commission instructed the different National Sports Association to come up with monitoring teams. The idea was to monitor potential gold winners as to boost our chances for the overall championship.  PSC chair Cecil Hechanova assigned me to athletics and chess. Our tracksters then included Lydia De Vega, Elma Muros and Isidro Del Prado. We were on track for the championship going to the last day of competition. 

Although my protégé Herman Suizo won the men’s marathon, Arsenia Sagaray lost in the women’s side. When the smoke cleared, we lost to Indonesia by one gold medal.  It was the closest finish in SEA Games history. This year, the NSAs are trying to duplicate what we did then.

POC president Bambol Tolentino said if we win between 130 to 180 gold medals, which is doable, then we will become champs again. Tolentino said contact sports could bring in majority of the haul with arnis projected to deliver in at least 15 out of 20 events. 

The other gold potential events are judo, kickboxing, sambo, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.  We could also depend on boxing, wrestling and dragonboat.  Dancesport could chip in 10 gold medals with athletics and gymnastics targeting nine each.

Don’t forget weightlifting with HidilynDiaz  and skateboarding with Asian champion Margielyn Didal of Cebu. Homecourt advantage will play a big part as we can add same indigenous events which are unfamiliar to the other countries.  We also have the advantage of scheduling events just like what Malaysia did.  If you recall in the 2017 KL Games.Fil-Am Eric Cray’s events were scheduled less than an hour apart.  Yes folks, we could be champions.

Is that so?

I met GM Wesley So in Manila when he was just 12 years old and just starting to show signs that he will be a force to reckon with in the future. Well, the future is now.  So, 28, trashed world classical champion Magnus Carlsen in the World Fischer Random Chess Championship in Hovirodden, Norway recently.  What made it more sweeter was, So did it in Carlsen’s own country.  But sad to say, So did not represent the Philippines. He left the country five years ago and plays for the United States in international tournaments.  Well, we can’t blame So, the grass is greener in America.  Look at Lydia De Vega and Rico Mascarinas, they are both based in Singapore teaching their respective sports to the Singaporeans.  What an irony!

Did you know?

FIRST BASKETBALL GAME.On January 20, 1892, the first game of basketball was played in a YMCA building located on the corner of State and Sherman streets in Springfield, Massachusetts. The first two teams to meet in the first game had nine players on a side (merely because 18 students showed up for class that day). The first goal was scored by William Chase of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Mr.  Chase’s team won the game as his goal was only the goal scored.  That’s 1-0

CAGERS. Ever wondered why basketball players are also called cagers?.  The ninth rule (in the original 13) written by founder James Naismith which states the first man to touch the ball after it had gone out of bounds  could throw it back in without interference.  “Sa ato pa bisan asa moadto ang bola, bisan pa sa bleacher,puede mo ma-inbound didto”.  In some instances, ten to twenty players rush for the ball.  To solve this problem, officials encased the court in chicken wire, thus keeping the ball in bounds or keeping it in a cage, hence basketball players were called cagers.  The chicken wires were discontinued in 1929.

LIAR.Perhaps one of the greatest teams in Basketball history was the Buffalo Germans that played more than thirty years and at one stretch, won 111 games straight.  In a game against Carlisle Indian School, the Germans watched the Indians warm up and were quite impressed with the famous  Indian athlete, Jim Thorpe (who would eventually become an Olympic champion in the pentathlon and decathlon). The German’s Hank Faust got the assignment to guArd Thorpe.  Carlisle captain Al Heerdt asked Faust in a loud voice how many points he will allowed Thorpe.  Faust yelled ‘I’ll let him have two”.  Thorpe heard Faust and was determined to make a liar of Faust.  Near the end’s game Thorpe had not scored a point.  And just before the final whistle, Faust took the rebound and passed to a surprised Thorpe. “Here, for Christ’s sake, shoot, if you don’t get two points, you’ll make a liar out of me”.  History sports books do not tell whether or not Thorpe took the shot, but the boxscore of the game shows that Thorpe did score two points.

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