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Rappler at 10: A decade of sports

Delfin Dioquino

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Rappler at 10: A decade of sports
Here are 10 memorable sports events that Rappler chronicled throughout the past decade

MANILA, Philippines – The sports section has been a crucial part of Rappler ever since its inception.

From the Olympic Games to local boxing contests, Rappler has been there to deliver the news and much more.

Here are 10 memorable sports events that Rappler chronicled throughout the past decade:

Rappler at 10: A decade of sports
Gilas Pilipinas-Australia brawl

Fighting in sports in not unusual, but what happened during the FIBA World Cup qualifying game between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia at the Philippine Arena in July 2018 proved to be on a different level.

In a bizarre turn of events, a full-blown brawl broke out as players and coaches from both sides traded kicks and punches after Aussie star Daniel Kickert decked Filipino ace Roger Pogoy with an elbow.

A total of 13 players – nine from the Philippines and four from Australia – were ejected in the disastrous match that ended prematurely in the third quarter, with the Nationals losing by default after running out of players for the game to continue.

The aftermath of the free-for-all changed the course of the national team as several of the 12 Filipinos suspended by FIBA never got to represent the Philippines again in the world stage.

Rappler at 10: A decade of sports
Pacquiao-Mayweather fight

Two boxing juggernauts collided in May 2015 as Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao and American great Floyd Mayweather Jr. tangled in what was billed as the “Fight of the Century.”

It took more than five years for the bout to happen, but it somehow did not live up to its massive hype for lack of drama and action inside the ring, with a defensive-oriented Mayweather beating Pacquiao via unanimous decision to stay undefeated.

Still, the fight was watched by millions worldwide and reportedly generated $600 million in revenue.

Despite the loss, Pacquiao – who is now retired from boxing and currently running for the presidency – reportedly earned a cool $120 million.

Rappler at 10: A decade of sports
Tokyo Olympics

The pandemic hardly deterred Filipino athletes from stamping their class in the Tokyo Games as the Philippines finally ended its near century-long wait for an Olympic gold medal courtesy of weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.

Diaz ruled the inaugural women’s 55kg class after an enthralling duel with Chinese world title holder Liao Qiuyun that saw her establish Olympic records in clean and jerk and total lift.

As Diaz set the tone for the Filipino delegation, the rest delivered as boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial bagged two silvers and one bronze for the Philippines’ biggest medal haul in Olympic history.

Others also put on gallant stands, with gymnast Carlos Yulo falling just a place short of a medal and golfer Yuka Saso placing ninth among 60 participants.

The Philippines landed at joint 50th place in the medal tally – its highest Olympic finish in three decades – and ranked as the best Southeast Asian nation.

Rappler at 10: A decade of sports
Ateneo Blue Eagles’ UAAP three-peat

The Ateneo Blue Eagles affirmed their case as the gold standard in collegiate basketball when they captured their third straight UAAP championship without dropping a single game in Season 82 more than two years ago.

Guided by Tab Baldwin, the Blue Eagles thwarted Aldin Ayo and the UST Growling Tigers in the finals to become the first team in UAAP history to post a perfect 16-0 record.

Star guard Thirdy Ravena particularly shone in the best-of-three duel as he captured his third consecutive Finals MVP honors to cap his stellar UAAP career.

That title run also served as a springboard for some of the Blue Eagles’ key players, with the likes of Ravena, SJ Belangel, Mike and Matt Nieto, Isaac Go, and naturalized big man Angelo Kouame getting called up to the national team.

Jayson Castro of Gilas Pilipinas. NUKI SABIO/FIBA ASIA
2013 FIBA Asia Championship

Gilas Pilipinas qualified for the FIBA World Cup for the first time in nearly four decades after a dramatic silver-medal finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship.

Pitted against longtime tormentor Korea in the semifinals, the Filipinos defended their territory at the Mall of Asia Arena with an awe-inspiring 86-79 victory to advance to the finals and punch their World Cup ticket.

Heroes were aplenty in ending the “Korean curse” as Jayson Castro, Marc Pingris, Jimmy Alapag, and Ranidel de Ocampo all played prominent roles in the victory.

Forced to play without injured naturalized player Marcus Douthit, Gilas Pilipinas settled for silver after bowing to Hamed Haddadi and unbeaten Iran in the finals.

Rappler at 10: A decade of sports
2019 Southeast Asian Games

The Philippines pulled out all the stops in hosting the Southeast Asian Games en route to its first overall championship since 2005, which was also the last time the country hosted the regional showpiece.

Although marred by controversies regarding food, accommodation, and transportation, the country successfully wrapped up the biennial meet with 149 golds, 117 silvers, and 121 bronzes for a total of 387 medals, almost 100 more than runner-up Vietnam.

Gymnast Carlos Yulo emerged as the Philippines’ most bemedalled athlete after pocketing two golds and five silvers in a fitting homecoming after training in Japan for several years.

Aside from stories of triumph and defeat, love and sportsmanship also thrived in the SEA Games as surfer Roger Casogay earned the Fair Play Athlete award for helping his foe get back to safety and tennister Ruben Gonzales got engaged after falling short of a gold, among others.

Barangay Ginebra. PBA IMAGES
2020 PBA Philippine Cup

The first local league to be allowed to play in the middle of the pandemic, the PBA hurdled numerous challenges to finish at least one conference for the 2020 season.

Following the blueprint set by the NBA when it held the rest of the 2019-2020 season at the Disney World Resort in Orlando, the PBA staged the Philippine Cup inside a bubble in Clark, Pampanga, where the 12 PBA teams stayed for three months.

The conference saw the return of star forward Calvin Abueva, who came back from a 16-month suspension and helped Phoenix make a deep playoff run.

It was Barangay Ginebra, though, which ended up as the last team standing after besting TNT in the best-of-seven finals to capture its first all-Filipino title in more than a decade.

Rappler at 10: A decade of sports
2018 Asian Games

Girl power was in full effect in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia as the four gold medals the Philippines clinched were all won by women.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, and golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan, and Lois Kaye Go emerged victorious in their respective events to lead the Philippines’ 21-medal haul.

Team Philippines also claimed silver and bronze medals in boxing, judo, cycling, golf, jiu jitsu, karate, pencak silat, taekwondo, and wushu.

Although it failed to win a medal, Gilas Pilipinas dazzled in the quadrennial meet with Filipino-American and Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson donning the national colors in an official event for the first time.

Rappler at 10: A decade of sports
Pride of Bohol fight card

Rappler took on a bigger coverage role in August 2019 as it served as the official broadcaster of the Pride of Bohol boxing event headlined by Filipino rising star Mark Magsayo in Tagbilaran.

Magsayo toppled Thai Panya Uthok via unanimous decision to keep his immaculate record intact in the card that featured six other bouts.

That was the last time Magsayo fought in the Philippines as he posted three straight wins in the United States, the last of which was an emphatic knockout victory over Mexican Julio Ceja in August last year.

Magsayo will get a shot at becoming the newest Filipino world champion when he locks horns with American Gary Russell Jr. for the World Boxing Council featherweight title this January.

Team Lakay dominance in ONE Championship

While there is only one current Filipino titleholder – strawweight king Joshua Pacio – in ONE Championship, there was a time when the country dominated the champions list.

In 2018, Pacio, Eduard Folayang (lightweight), Kevin Belingon (bantamweight), and Geje Eustaquio (flyweight) of the famed Team Lakay stable ended the year with a ONE belt each in their possession.

The four Filipino mixed martial artists fought for a total of 11 bouts throughout 2018 and won all of them in a remarkable display of supremacy.

Folayang, Belingon, and Eustaquio eventually relinquished their thrones, but Team Lakay has a bevy of up-and-coming fighters seeking to bring the Philippines back to the ONE zenith. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.