2020 Philippine sports in a nutshell

MANILA, Philippines –
If there is one particular year that people would want to be erased in the history of mankind, without thinking twice, it would be 2020.

This year has been rough for everyone. Lives were lost and businesses closed because of the global pandemic. The Philippine sports industry is not even exempted in COVID-19’s wrath as local leagues and competitions shut down.

It was in March when PBA opened its 45th season but after a few days, the government ordered a nation-wide lockdown that forced the pro basketball league to temporarily cease its operation and immediately followed by the biggest collegiate sports league in the country, the UAAP.

Despite the trouble caused by the coronavirus, Filipino sports fans and athletes still have the reason to smile and celebrate.

Ginebra wins 2020

Here are the notable sporting events in the country and interests of Filipinos this year.

First on the list is the NBA's resumption in July after its four-month hiatus. It was really odd to watch NBA games in the bubble setup but basketball aficionados got used to it and witnessed the LA Lakers copped their 17th title.

LA Lakers copped their 17th title
Photo credit: nba.com

Lakers’ championship became more memorable and sweeter as Lebron James and the rest of the gang dedicated the Larry O’Brien trophy to Kobe Bryant who along with his daughter, Gigi, died in a helicopter crash in January.

Bryant’s untimely demise served as a premonition to what could come worst globally and in the entire sports industry.

Kobe Bryant
Photo Credit: nba.com

Just over a couple of months after the conclusion of the Orlando bubble, the NBA started its 2020-2021 season where big roster shuffles happened in each and every team. The defending champs headlined the league after re-signing Anthony Davis and acquiring four star players in minimum deals.

Speaking of NBA, the 7’2” Filipino basketball prodigy, Kai Sotto, signed with NBA G League under team Ignite which serves as his stepping stone to the biggest basketball league in the world, the NBA.

Kai Sotto, signed with NBA G League
Photo credit: gleague.nba.com

Not only Sotto who went abroad to continue his basketball career, but UAAP MVP and ADMU stalwart Thirdy Ravena also turned pro and found his home at the Japan B.League playing as an Asian reinforcement for San-En Neophoenix.

Thirdy Ravena Japan B.League
Photo credit: B.League Facebook page

Come October, the PBA also restarted and had its own bubble version in Angeles City, Pampanga where Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel cemented another historic feat by capturing its first Philippine Cup title after thirteen long years.

Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel wins PBA bubble
Photo credit: pba.ph

Aside from PBA games’ continuation, Commissioner Willie Marcial had finally lifted up the year-long suspension of Calvin “The Beast” Abueva due to illicit behavior on and off the court.

PBA fans cannot also wait for the 2021 rookie draft as the country’s top ballers Jason Brickman, Brandon Rosser, Jeremiah Gray, Joshua Munzon, Troy Rike, Alvin Pasaol, Santi Santillan, Frankie Johnson, Jerrick Ahanmisi, and Jamie Malonzo just to name a few, all declared to join the draft.

The Gilas Pilipinas cadets, headed by college stars Kobe Paras, Juan Gomez de Liano, and Isaac Go swept team Thailand to top Group A in the second window of the FIBA Asia Qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain.

Gilas Pilipinas cadet
Photo credit: fiba.basketball

In boxing, even though we did not see Manny Pacquiao fight this year, a couple of Filipino boxers stood out. Tokyo Olympics-bound Eumir Marcial battered Andrew Whitfield in his pro debut while Reymart Gaballo shocked the world as he won the WBC interim Bantamweight title versus Emmanuel Rodriguez.

2020 is also the year for the young Filipino athletes to represent the Philippines in the international stage.

Spearheaded by the 15-year old Alex Eala who currently sits in second place of the ITF Women’s Junior rankings after a superb stint in the prestigious French Open.

Alex Eala
Photo credit: rafaelnadalacademy.com

Filipino-Japanese golfer Yuka Saso was impressive with her 13th place finish in the LPGA US Women’s Open. Saso was joined by her compatriot Bianca Pagdanganan who unfortunately got cut midway through the said major golf tournament.

Yuka Saso
Photo credit: usga.org

SEA Games gold medalist and skateboarder, Margielyn Didal bagged a silver in the Madrid Urban Sports Online Tournament. Didal also aims to book a seat in the 2021 Olympics.

Margielyn Didal
Photo credit: redbull.com

Four-time Olympian, Hidilyn Diaz ruled the women’s 59kg division of the 2020 Eleiko Email International Lifters Tournament and added another gold to her resume.

Hidilyn Diaz
Photo credit: tokyo2020.org

Carlos Yulo bagged a bronze in the All-Japan Senior Gymnastics Championships which is good preparation for the Filipino gymnast in the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics next year.

Carlos Yulo
Photo credit: olympicchannel.com

Known for being resilient and in spite of the difficulties that life may bring, Filipinos will still find ways to celebrate and above all, will find ways to win every battle. Even COVID-19 cannot stop the Filipino athletes from conquering the sports world.

So long 2020, you made the Filipinos tougher than ever. Welcome, 2021, may the Filipino athletes make their countrymen more proud!

Mabuhay ang mga atletang Pinoy!

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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