by Jonas Terrado
Major stories that highlighted 2017 are expected to play a factor into 2018 as major events from both here and abroad await Philippine sports.
The Indonesia Asian Games will once again put not only national athletes into the microscope but also officials governing the country’s local sports associations while the PBA begins its search for a new leader after a turmoil that led to the resignation of commissioner Chito Narvasa.
Manny Pacquiao’s future in boxing remains a question mark, Jerwin Ancajas is poised for big things even as La Salle will look to gather itself before the UAAP season after the departure of its best player and coach.
How will the Philippines fare in the Asian Games?
BMX rider Daniel Caluag saved the country from embarrassment in 2014 when he won the lone gold in the games held in Incheon, South Korea. It was, however, the lowest gold medal haul for the Philippines since the 1998 Bangkok Games.
Officials from both the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee are confident that some of winners from the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games and world championship competitions can help improve the Philippines’ campaign in the Asiad.
Krizzah Tabora’s victory in the Bowling World Cup could give her the momentum she needs in Indonesia while athletics and boxing are expected to be favorites to compete for gold after winning a combined seven in the SEAG.
Will the PBA immediately find its new commissioner?
The PBA was nearly put into a complete division in the final months of 2017 when a controversial trade between Kia and San Miguel started an impasse that ended with the resignation of Chito Narvasa as commissioner.
Longtime league official Willie Marcial officially begins today his new role as Officer-In-Charge while the league searches for someone who will be tasked to bring the PBA to a new direction.
Marcial has requested to hold the OIC position for 30 days but a scheduled board meeting during that period could likely determine the 10th commissioner since the PBA opened shop in 1975.
It would be interesting to see if the PBA board of governors’ search would be an easy task or force Marcial to have an extended stay as caretaker.
What’s next for Manny Pacquiao and Philippine boxing?
Manny Pacquiao expressed little to no plans of retirement in 2018, even entertaining the idea of facing UFC star Conor McGregor. A rematch with Australian Jeff Horn, who stunned Pacquiao in last year’s bout in Brisbane, could be a possible option.
So far, the focus has been on Jerwin Ancajas, who emerged as the best boxer in 2017 when won three defenses of his IBF junior bantamweight title. He will take on Mexican Israel Gonzales next month in Corpus Christi, Texas – his first appearance in the United States after signing a six-fight deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank promotions.
Milan Melindo was facing Japanese Ryoichi Taguchi at press time in Tokyo for a shot at unifying IBF and WBA light flyweight titles. Bigger fights are in line for the ALA fighter if he ends up beating Taguchi.
Can La Salle make up for its key losses?
The loss to the archrival Ateneo Blue Eagles in the UAAP finals turned out to be the start of a difficult December for Green Archer fans as two-time Most Valuable Player Ben Mbala decided to skip his final season in the league while coach Aldin Ayo is all but set to move to University of Santo Tomas.
Losing Mbala and Ayo will be a big blow for La Salle, which will likely lose some of its swagger despite still having a talented roster that could give Ateneo a run for its money in the UAAP’s 81st season.
The names of Eric Altamirano and Richard del Rosario have surfaced as potential replacements.
Will there be a new POC election?
The POC was ordered by a Pasig City to hold a new election next month for disqualifying Ricky Vargas in the 2016 polls that saw Peping Cojuangco running unopposed to win a fourth term as the president of the country’s Olympic committee.