Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Azkals, Manny let's make PH believe again

(This is the draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on May 31)
After that riveting, and often times comical show that had the country divided along political colors, it’s time, as them honorables said, “to unite as one country.”

And what better way after the if-you’re-not-yellow-then-you're-anti-Coronanovela, than to cheer for the good ol’ red-blue-and-yellow when our country’s best face others?

There’s the series of Azkals friendlies in the next few days, one on Independence Day, then, of course, there’s Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley on June 10 and Donnie Nietes vs.  Felipe Salguero on Saturday.

First, of course, is the friendly against Malaysia on Friday, and unlike the last time the two sides met, I think the home team will be taking the Azkals a little bit more seriously.

Though we dominated a listless Malaysia squad at home last Feb. 29, I don’t think that will be a gauge when the Azkals visit a defending Suzuki Cup champion for the first time since taking on Vietnam in 2010 as Malaysia has changed the lineup drastically, calling up 10 of the 11 starters who won the Cup against Indonesia.

So, how do you think our boys will fare? Coming from the AFC Challenge Cup win against Palestine, I’m hopeful. But I’m hoping, too, that after all the divisiveness that hit the country, they’d let all Filipinos—sports fans or not—be united, even for just 90 minutes.

Hide nothing, show everything on the field. I think we all deserve that.

Let’s bring back that we-believe-attitude because it’s a much-needed shot in the arm for Juan who’s tired of all the politicking.

Manny, too, needs this one. Especially after that fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, where, despite early pronouncement from his Team, it has been exposed that he was too distracted and that his marriage was on the rocks, the bible-toting pugilist needs to make a statement against Bradley.

Let’s hope Donnie, too, wins his on Saturday because nothing epitomizes a Pinoy fighter more than this humble ex-janitor-turned-world-champion who has kept his feet on the ground.

Do you remember Manny’s win against Marco Antonio Barrera--the legendary version, not that bloated barely there fighter—in 2003? Well, it came a few months after a mutiny, and during a senate probe, too. That was something, wasn’t it? Ditto with the Azkals, months after the bus incident gave.

Wouldn’t any of you want that again? In a time when folks grimace at the front pages, to have something to cheer about in the sports pages? 

It’s time to believe again.

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