Filipino athletes who made waves on social media in 2017

Kaye Cabal
Filipino athletes who made waves on social media in 2017
Here are some of the most talked about local athletes and sports teams on Rappler's social media accounts for this year

MANILA, Philippines – From university athletics to international tournaments, 2017 has been a year full of highlights and emotions for Filipino sports fans. Ask any sports enthusiast and it will be very difficult for that person to pinpoint just one standout moment for the year.

Social media, however, can be a pretty good gauge in knowing which of the milestones caught the attention of our sports-loving readers. Netizens have utilized the different social networking sites – especially Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram – in showing their support for their favorite athletes. 

Here are some of the local athletes and sports teams who made waves on social media this year, based on Rappler’s most-engaged posts and stories:

2017 SEA Games Gold Medalists

Filipinos celebrated on social media the moment marathoner Mary Joy Tabal delivered the Philippines its first gold medal in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

FIRST GOLD. Marathoner Mary Joy Tabal delivers first gold for the Phillipines at 2017 SEA Games. Photo from PSC/POC Pool

The Philippines wrapped up the 2017 SEA Games with a medal tally of 24 golds, 33 silvers, and 64 bronzes for 6th place on the table. Despite crashing to its worst finish in the SEA Games since 1999, netizens still lauded the Filipino athletes, especially the podium finishers.

Some of the notable SEA Games gold medalists from the country this year include 17-year-old Kaitlin De Guzman for gymnastics, double gold medalist Trenten Beram for athletics, the Philippine ice hockey team for winning the sport’s first ever SEA Games gold, the Philippine lawn bowl teamColin Syquia for equestrian, and light heavyweight boxer John Marvin for beating his Malaysian foe in just 21 seconds.

The Philippines is hosting the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019. (READ: Philippines makes U-turn, will host 2019 SEA Games)

Gilas Pilipinas 

It has been a busy year for the country’s men’s national basketball team.

Aside from winning the gold medal in this year’s SEA Games, Gilas Pilipinas – a mix of cadets and PBA veterans – also participated in several international tournaments this year: the SEABA Men’s Championship in May, the William Jones Cup in July, the FIBA Asia Cup in August, and the first window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in November.

Basketball fans and spectators online were all rooting for the national team as they battled for pride and honor in the international basketball stage. Some of the most-engaged Gilas Pilipinas games on Rappler for 2017 were the following:

BREAKOUT. Kobe Paras shows what he can do in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games. Photo from PSC/POC Pool

Some of the social media fan favorites during the competitions included PBA’s Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva, German-born Christian Standhardinger, “The Phenom” Kiefer Ravena, and 19-year-old high-flyer Kobe Paras.

#LabanPilipinas and #GilasPilipinas were also among the top sports-related hashtags this year, according to Twitter Philippines

Ateneo Blue Eagles and DLSU Green Archers 

Nothing beats the show of school spirit in college sports.

It is during the UAAP season that we all witness an overflow of school pride – much more when it’s Ateneo against La Salle in the championship.

The Ateneo Blue Eagles finally took the crown back to Katipunan after 5 years as they dethroned the De La Salle Green Archers in 3 games. (READ: Ateneo Blue Eagles are UAAP Season 80 champions)

CHAMPIONS. Ateneo Blue Eagles are kings of UAAP Season 80. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

Some of the Blue Eagles instrumental to Ateneo’s championship include Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena, Matt Nieto and Isaac Go. In this sweet victory, one fan stood out in a sea of blue, as Blue Eagles’ benefactor Manny V. Pangilinan expressed his happiness by gifting the champion team each with an iPhone X and an all-expense-paid trip to Hong Kong.

FAN FAVORITE. De La Salle Green Archers' Ricci Rivero is Twitter's most talked-about Filipino athlete this year. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Despite the runner-up finish, some of the Green Archers still dominated the online discussion. With over 243,000 followers, Ricci Rivero is Twitter’s most talked-about Filipino athlete this year. Other Green Archers in the list are Prince Rivero, Brent Paraiso, and Kib Montalbo. 

Shortly after the heart-stopping championship series, netizens celebrated La Salle’s show of sportsmanship when the St. La Salle Building was lit up in blazing blue

ALSO READ: ‘BEST GAME EVER’: Netizens react to cardiac UAAP Season 80 Finals Game 3

DLSU Lady Spikers and Ateneo Lady Eagles

From one collegiate rivalry to another.

With a fanbase cheering as loud and as proud in a country dominated by boxing and basketball fans, women’s volleyball – especially in the collegiate level – is among the top sports in the country today. 

BACK-TO-BACK. The De La Salle Lady Spikers win the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball title after sweeping the Ateneo Lady Eagles. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

For the UAAP Season 79 championship showdown, we witnessed a battle between the crowd-drawers DLSU Lady Spikers and Ateneo Lady Eagles. The Lady Spikers prevailed after sweeping the Lady Eagles in two games, spearheaded by Season 79 Most Valuable Player Mary Joy Baron and Finals MVP Desiree Cheng.

This finals series also saw UAAP’s two star setters, La Salle’s Kim Fajardo and Ateneo’s Jia Morado, play their final game in the league. (READ: Setters’ exit: Bidding farewell to Kim Fajardo and Jia Morado)

RUNNERS-UP. Ateneo Lady Eagles settled for second place in UAAP Season 79. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

Aside from the graduating volleyball collegiate stars, another student-athlete became the talk of the town when Ateneo announced that opposite spiker Michelle Morente will not suit up for the team in Season 80. (READ: Ateneo confirms Michelle Morente out of Lady Eagles lineup)

Manny Pacquiao

The result of the bloody ‘Battle of Brisbane’ in July sparked a social media frenzy, with Manny Pacquiao losing his WBO welterweight title to Australian Jeff Horn in a controversial decision. (READ: Horn wins decision over Pacquiao in bloody Brisbane brawl)

Boxing powerhouse Philippines and the rest of the world witnessed Pacquiao’s first defeat since losing to Floyd Mayweather in 2015, and of course, not everyone agreed with how the judges scored the fight. (READ: ‘Pacquiao was robbed,’ ‘lawn chairs,’ and other #PacHorn reactions)

CONTROVERSY IN BRISBANE. Manny Pacquiao loses a debatable decision over Jeff Horn in Brisbane. Photo by Patrick Hamilton/AFP

Many Filipinos also reacted when promoter Bob Arum said that the fight could have gone either way and that Pacquiao’s Senate duties were hindering his boxing career.

San Miguel Beermen and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel

The San Miguel Beermen made history in the PBA when they won their third consecutive All-Filipino title in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup. In 5 games, the Beermen managed to crush the never-say-die spirit of sister team Barangay Ginebra San Miguel for their 23rd PBA title. (READ: San Miguel finishes Ginebra for 3rd straight PH Cup title)

Chris Ross won his second Philippine Cup Finals MVP accolade, while 2017 PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo grabbed his fifth Best Player of the Conference award. (IN PHOTOS: San Miguel fulfills 3-peat goal in 2017 Philippine Cup)

CHAMPS. San Miguel Beermen wins 5th PBA championship in 8 conferences. Photo from PBA Images

The dominance of the Beermen did not end there as the team won their first PBA Commissioner’s Cup title in 17 years.

With the help of Best Import of the Conference Charles Rhodes, and Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP Alex Cabagnot, the Beermen successfully clinched their second championship of the season, 24th for the franchise. How dominant is San Miguel in the PBA today? This was already their 5th title in just 8 conferences. (IN PHOTOS: San Miguel wins 5th championship in 8 conferences)

But Beermen’s quest for a rare PBA grand slam the following conference ended when Barangay Ginebra shut them down in the Governors’ Cup Quarterfinals.

CHAMPIONS AGAIN. Barangay Ginebra once again denies Meralco its first championship. Photo from PBA Images

The eventual champions managed to set a finals rematch with the Meralco Bolts, and once again prevailed to win their second Governors’ Cup title. The crowd-favorite team successfully defended their title in front of 54,086 paying fans at the Philippine Arena – the biggest gate attendance recorded in PBA history. 

This is the first PBA Finals appearance of Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference Greg Slaughter after missing action for almost a year due to an injury. 

It was a bittersweet time for Ginebra fans, however, as former league MVP Jayjay Helterbrand announced his retirement from the PBA just a couple of days after winning their 10th franchise title. Helterbrand spent all of his fruitful 17-year career with the team.

Who are your favorite sports personalities for this year? Let us know in the comments or create your own list on X

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Kaye Cabal

Kaye Cabal leads Rappler’s Digital Communications team and has been with Rappler since 2014. Her interest in and dedication to social media grew deeper with her love and passion for Philippine sports. She is a BS Development Communication graduate of UP Los Baños.