2016 has been a year full of highs and lows, not just from a global standpoint, but also in the realm of sports. The Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Cavaliers may have won championships for their beloved fan bases, but the sporting world lost Arnold Palmer and Muhammad Ali, both of whom made an impact through their talent and relentless passion.
With 2017 having begun, the following are a few sporting events that ought to generate excitement within the Lasallian community, whether it involves Lasallians or professional athletes. Events such as the second half of UAAP Season 79, the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) and the Shakey’s V-League tournament, and the resumption of the current PBA season were omitted in order to put more focus on those listed below.
2017 SEA (Southeast Asian) Games
This year’s biennial regional meet, which will be held in Malaysia from August 17 to 31, will be an opportunity for the country’s best athletes to improve on the Philippines’ sixth-place finish in the 2015 edition of the SEA Games. With the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) planning to send a small contingent in 2017, the country is aiming for quality over quantity in an effort to replicate their top overall finish back when the nation hosted the SEA Games in 2005.
Several former and current Lasallians took home medals in the 2015 SEA Games and with the government ensuring that those who medalled will remain, expect the likes of former Green Tanker Nikko Bryan Huelgas, former Lady Paddler Yan Lariba, and former Green Trackster Patrick Unso to continue to represent the country at the ASEAN level.
UAAP Season 80
Season 79 may be far from over but 2017 will also see the country’s most popular collegiate league celebrate its 80th season, where the Green Archers will seek to defend their title.
Season 80 will take up only the latter half of this year, but preparations for the UAAP are a yearlong affair, with tournaments such as the FilOil Preseason Cup and the UniGames serving as preseason preparations for the various teams the University fields. Depending on this season’s results, UST will aim to take its 41st or 42nd UAAP general championship (GC), while DLSU will be seeking its 4th or 5th UAAP GC in six years.
Philippines Football League
Slated to start in the first quarter of this year, the Philippines Football League (PFL) will serve as the top-tier league for Philippine Football, supplanting the semi-professional United Football League (UFL), which served as the training ground for the country’s players for almost a decade.
Various media outlets have mentioned a number of parties that have expressed interest, with Global FC, Ceres-Negros FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks FC, Kaya FC, Stallions FC, and JP Voltes FC slated to play in the PFL’s inaugural season. As of press time, Global (Cebu), Ceres (Bacolod), and Loyola (Taguig) have already finalized their home bases, with Kaya, Stallions, and JP Voltes still finalizing the details for their respective home cities.
With the PFL, football can continue to grow and build on the efforts of the UFL, emulating the initiatives that have led to the success of the Philippines’ regional and continental neighbors.
World Baseball Classic
The Philippines had a shot to qualify for the World Baseball Classic, which is arguably baseball’s largest event outside of the World Series. However, an 11-1 loss to the Australian national team and a 17-7 setback against New Zealand in the preliminary qualifiers prevented them from reaching the main tournament despite entering the competition with a team backed by foreign players who have had experience in Major League Baseball (MLB).
The United States will parade a team of all-stars, while South American nations such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic will bring the best players their nations can offer. The World Baseball Classic will be played from March 9 to 22, and will be played in various locations for the first two rounds, before the finals in Los Angeles, California, USA.
2017 Asian Women’s Volleyball Championships
With the growing popularity of the sport of volleyball in the country, the rabid fan base can look forward to this year’s Asian Women’s Volleyball Championships, which will be held in Metro Manila from August 9 to 17.
Fans will surely pack the arenas slated to host the event as the UAAP volleyball tournament will be over by then, paving the way for the likes of Kim Fajardo, Dawn Macandili, and Kim Dy to be a part of the squad. As of press time, the team has yet to be completed as a coaching search is currently underway. Furthermore, superstars like Alyssa Valdez and other players serving their military commitments will not be able to participate in the competition, which means the squad will sorely miss their coordinated attacks and experience.
IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships
The 2017 IAAF World Championships will be an event to remember as the biennial affair will be Usain Bolt’s final event in his storied career. Slated to be held from August 4 to 13, 2017, the competition will be held in London, the site where Bolt won a handful of medals in the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Eric Cray, who currently holds the record for the 400 meter hurdles in the SEA Games, is eyeing to represent the Philippines and will use the event as a springboard for his title defense in the 2017 SEA Games. Cray was also the lone Philippine representative during the 2015 edition of the competition.