Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Fair Play: Barriga toys with taller Italian foe

DID you, like millions of Pinoys all over the world, catch Mark Barriga's round-of-32 fight in the Olympics?

After Hidilyn Diaz's painful and tearful disqualification, the early exits of swimmer Jessie Lacuna, and shooter Brian Rosario (30th of 36 shooters), Mark Barriga's win was the best piece of Olympic news since Jasmine Figeuroa's surprise win over Natalia Valeeva in archery in 2004.

Yep, it's been that long since we had something to cheer about in the Olympics, and longer too, since we've had a medal--16 years to be exact.

Of course, that's just but one fight and it's too early to tell if Barriga, who could face the defending champion Zou Shiming of China, if both win again in the next round, has what it takes.  But, man, it feels good to see a Pinoy win an Olympic match, especially if that Pinoy seemed, at the outset, the underdog as he gave away six inches in height.

But height, as Barriga showed against Italian Manuel Cappai is not might in boxing as he pummeled the hapless Italian 5-2 in the opening round, which also saw the Italian called for a standing eight.

Next up for Barriga, who's only 5' but listed as 5'2" in his profile in the Olympics, is Kazakhstan's Birzhan Zhakypov, an 18-17 winner over France's Jermey Beccu, who was reduced to tears after the bout he thought he should have won.

Barriga has now been labeled as the Little Pacquiao, and I hope that means he'll have the lefty's knockout power and not a favorable and unfavorable decision in his next two bouts.

Barriga’s fight against the 28-year-old Zhakypov will be this Saturday, at 8:45 p.m., so, let’s all tune in, right?

AZKALS IN THE OLYMPICS.  One fan posted a question in the Facebook page “if the Azkals are playing in London,” and has since been deluged with a lot of comments.  I think his ignorance is forgivable as even I don’t even know when the qualifier for the Olympics was.

(*Update, I just learned that the Philippines was invited to join the London qualifiers last 2010 but had to skip it. Dan Palami, who by then had just formed the Azkals, was willing to field the team together with the U22 prospects but had to turn it down because Dan was informed about the tournament a month after the confirmation date had lapsed.)

Now, I read that Phil Younghusband hopes the Philippines will join the qualifiers for rio 2016 and perhaps qualify.  The Olympics is for the U23 teams, with three overaged players, but for the qualifiers? It will be just a team of U22 players.

The Asian qualifiers for Rio will be the AFC U22 competitions in 2015 and did you know what happened the last time we fielded a team in the qualifiers for the AFC U22?

To get to Rio, we have to qualify first, for the Asian qualifiers.  Of course, anything is possible, just like snagging a date with Maria Sharapova is still possible for me.

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