Goodbye, 2020. Let’s hope and pray that 2021 will usher in better times. It was tough surviving the trials of the past year but here we are, still in fighting form, following government guidelines to stay safe. While 2020 brought a lot of anguish, there were also bright moments like strengthening our family bonds, becoming closer to God, discovering options to remain productive and finding ways to be more helpful to our community.
For sports, here are four of our 10 wishes for the New Year.
• Back to normal. The vaccine is just around the corner and we’re all waiting for things to return to how they were before. Professional sports is back in business but understandably, competition at the amateur level remains on hold. Even as inoculation is coming, it won’t mean letting our guard down because immunity isn’t immediately guaranteed.
• Returning to top three in FIBA Asia. The next FIBA Asia Cup is scheduled in Jakarta on Aug. 16-28. The third qualifying window is set next month with the Philippines facing South Korea twice and a retooled Indonesia once in Clark. There will be a mini-tournament among third placers in the group stage before the 16-team battle proper begins. In 2013 and 2015, the Philippines finished second. But in 2017, Gilas dropped to seventh with the entry of Australia and New Zealand in the quadrennial zonal competition.
• Pacquiao wins again. It appears that Sen. Manny Pacquiao will be deeply involved in the 2022 elections either as a candidate or as president of the ruling PDP-Laban party. Before the filing of candidacies in October, Pacquiao intends to fight once or twice, perhaps in April and/or September. He hasn’t fought since wresting the super WBA welterweight crown from Keith Thurman in Las Vegas in July 2019. If Pacquiao decides to hang up his gloves before the October filing, everyone would like him to retire in a blaze of glory.
• Making an impact in Tokyo Olympics. The dream is for the Tokyo Games to push through on July 23-Aug. 8. It’ll be a challenge to pull it off but nothing is impossible. PSC chairman Butch Ramirez is aiming for at least 15 athletes to represent the country. Chef de mission Nonong Araneta is banking on at least 20. POC president Rep. Bambol Tolentino is going all out to support the contingent, no matter the size. At the moment, four athletes have qualified – pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Caloy Yulo and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno. In the waiting list are weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margie Didal, boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, sprinters Kristina Knott and Kyla Richardson, shot putter William Morrison, judo’s Kiyomi Watanabe, taekwondo jin Pauline Lopez, karatekas Junna Tsukii and Jaime Lim, hurdler Eric Cray, pole vaulter Natalie Uy, shortboard surfers Nilbie Blancada and John Mark Tokong, BMX cyclist Daniel Caluag, mountain biker Ariana Dormitorio, swimmers James Deiparine and Jasmine Alkhaldi and golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan, among others.
Six more wishes will be in Sunday’s column. Happy New Year to one and all!
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