Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fair Play: 2008 in review

THE year is almost over, so let's review some of the things that made it to these pages this year.

BOXING’S SURGE. Though I'm not old enough to compare the present boxing scene to its yesteryears, 2008 saw a surge in boxing promotions in Cebu, though sadly, the boxers weren’t as successful as the sport was.

Three big promotions—including two world title fights—isn’t something to sneeze at.

Z Gorres fought valiantly to a draw with the brash Vic Darchinyan in a bout that saw water bottles flying into the ring;

AJ Banal ran out of steam in his shot for a world title against Rafael Concepcion; and in late August, the under-appreciated Donnie Nietes once again saved Cebu boxing for the second straight year by retaining his WBO belt.

CESAFI'S GROWTH.

It used to be that the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. would just give away their tickets to gather a crowd.

Now, they have scalpers and people faking their tickets.

Though that caused a lot of headaches for the organizers, it shows how the Cesafi basketball scene has grown.

From the semifinals, to the finals, the Cebu Coliseum was the place to be and fans, teachers, parents and everybody else joined the act.

The two finalists—University of the Visayas (UV) and the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R)—also didn't disappoint, playing five intense games before the Green Lancers finally took their eighth straight Cesafi crown.

USJ-R also figured in two other finals in major Cesafi events; winning the football crown over UV and losing the women's volleyball title to USPF.

On the other hand, USPF, like UV, also kept its dominance in girls volleyball for the eighth straight year.

After the regular season success, Cesafi is now thinking of putting up a post-season contest dubbed the Partners Cup, for its basketball, volleyball and football teams.

TEAM CEBU CITY. Cebu's Dancesport team just keeps on raising the bar.

This year, they staged a city-wide Inter Barangay competition to culminate their massive grassroots program and for good measure, won 25 of 27 gold medals in the mid-year national rankings.

It makes you wonder what they are going to do next year.

It wasn't only TCC Dancesport that was successful, TCC Football swept the Philippine Olympic Festival national crowns, while this year, TCC expanded to include chess and two members—Richard Bitoon and Kim Steven Yap, who did well in the Singapore Masters.

Bitoon won the event while Yap completed his norms and is now the newest International Master.

AZKALS IN CEBU.

Aside from reviving the Aboitiz Cup, the Cebu Football Association, led by new president Richard Montayre, also accomplished a first by bringing the RP national team to Cebu for a friendly against some of the best local players.

Though, as expected, the match finished in a blowout in favor of the RP Team, it at least gave local fans a chance to see the Azkals in action.

Cebu's football teams also did great in the Palarong Pambansa.

The Don Bosco College-led elementary team won its second title in three years, while Mario Ceniza led the high school squad to a silver medal, its first medal finish in years.

TENNIS.

Also for the first time in almost eight years, the country's top netters trooped to Cebu in the Cebuana Lhuillier Open, and for a week, local tennis enthusiast trooped to Baseline's courts to see RP's best like Johnny Arcilla and PJ Tiero clash.

ARNIS. Cebu also hosted the 10th World Eskrima Kali Arnis Championships and for the second straight edition, the Philippines lost the overall title at home against the Americans.

These are just some of the few notable things that made the sports news, and I may have missed some, but there's always next time.

Happy holidays!

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