8 Most Memorable Moments in Philippine Sports This 2016
By Jon Carlos Rodriguez
In 2016, streaks were halted and rivalries were renewed. There were heartbreaking losses, epic comebacks, and dramatic endings. Here are some of the most memorable Philippine sports moments of the year.
HIDILYN DIAZ WINS SILVER
When Zamboanga City native Hidilyn Diaz won silver at the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil, not only did she become the Philippines’ first female athlete to win an Olympic medal, she was also the first Filipino to medal in weightlifting. The last time the Philippines won an Olympic medal, Diaz was only five years old and Onyok Velasco was the country’s boxing icon.
GILAS VS THE WORLD
Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Nando de Colo, and Tai Webster. These are some of the names that Team Philippines faced in a bid to qualify for the Olympics. Gilas Pilipinas failed to upset the more experienced stars of France and New Zealand, but thanks to Terrence Romeo’s stellar play–and Boracay braids–the Philippines made its mark in the global stage, you know, for future reference.
NBA STARS VISIT MANILA
Aside from Parker, Diaw, Nicolas Batum, and Tristan Thompson, several NBA stars also visited Manila to see firsthand the Filipino brand of hoop fandom. Portland’s Damian Lillard went on a tour for Adidas in June while legend Gary Payton opened a new NBA Store in November. Kobe Bryant, fresh off retirement, also visited Manila for Nike’s Mamba Mentality Tour. 2016 Finals MVP LeBron James was set for a September visit, but it was scratched due to “logistical challenges.”
PACQUIAO, STILL KING
He may have lost his Nike sponsorship early this year, but Manny Pacquiao, in his first bout as a Philippine senator, proved he is still king of the ring by winning the WBO welterweight title from Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision. The boxing icon showed a glimpse of his old speed and power, enough to score a knockdown in the second round. With Pacquiao “unretired”, will Floyd Mayweather follow suit?
WWE LIVE IN MANILA
Filipino wrestling fans were treated to a live WWE show in September, featuring Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Big Show, and John Cena. The last time a WWE event was held in the country, CM Punk was still a thing–as a professional wrestler and not a UFC fighter.
Barangay Ginebra finally ended its eight-year title drought in 2016 in true “never say die” fashion. Down 13 at halftime of Game 6, living legend Robert Jaworksi gave a pep talk in the locker room to light a big fire under the team. An inspired Ginebra stormed out in the second half and erased the deficit. With the ballgame tied and only five seconds left, import Justin Brownlee drilled a title-clinching three-pointer at the top of the key. It was a sports moment worthy of a movie.
PERLAS PILIPINAS WINS GOLD
The Philippines’ women’s basketball team dominated the 2016 SEABA Championship for Women, bringing home a gold medal from Malaysia. The tournament ended in a 6-0 sweep for Perlas Pilipinas, which became only the second Philippine women’s team to win the SEABA title.
LA SALLE-ATENEO RIVALRY CONTINUES
2016 was the year the rivalry between the De La Salle University and the Ateneo de Manila University was renewed. In April, the La Salle Lady Spikers took the volleyball trophy by defeating the Ateneo Lady Eagles despite the heroic efforts of Alyssa Valdez. In December, the De La Salle Green Archers, led by Jeron Teng, brought the basketball trophy back to Taft by sweeping the Ateneo Blue Eagles. The series was dubbed a “dream finals” rematch eight years in the making.
What are your best local sports moments of 2016? Share them with us below!