Donaire wins Athlete of the Year award with Gabuco, Manila Softbelles and Blue Eagles
MANILA, Philippines - Boxing, basketball and softball takes the limelight in this year's Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) awards to be held in Manila Hotel on March 16.
Reigning world super-bantamweight champion Nonito "The Filipino Flash" Donaire, Jr. will lead the pack of exceptional athletes who gave honor to the country with their sport that will receive the highly-regarded Athlete of the Year award.
Among the recepients is another boxing world champion in the women's division. Josie Gabuco is the current gold medal winner of the AIBA World Women's Boxing Championship and the first Filipina to win a gold medal in the international competition.
Big League Softball World Series champion Team Manila Softbelles will also receive the award along with, arguably, one of the most dominant college basketball teams in collegiate sports, the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles. The Blue Eagles is the current champions of the UAAP tournament and have won the trophy five times in a row.
The March 16 gala awards night will mark the third time that Donaire will grace the occasion as a recepient of the distinction. Last year, Donaire shared the award with billiards champion Dennis Orcollo.
Recently, Donaire was also named Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) for his succesful title defenses the past year. His latest match last December saw him dismantle and knockout Mexican warrior Jorge Arce to become the undisputed World Boxing Organization (WBO) super bantamweight champion and lift the dampened spirits of Filipinos a week after Manny Pacquiao's devastating loss against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Donaire is the seventh three-time winner of the award joining the pantheon of sports greats including Lydia de Vega, Paeng Nepomuceno, Luisito Espinos, Bong Coo, Efren 'Bata' Reyes and Manny Pacquiao.
The other three are first time recepients of the award.
Josie Gabuco won the gold medal in the world boxing championships against host ace Xu Shiqi in a thrilling boxing match in the Olympics Sports Center in Qinhuangdao in China. She won the match with a score of 8-7 to take the light flyweight title.
The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles have practically sat at the top of the table kissing the UAAP championship trophy for five years straight and they show no signs of stopping once the season begins.
Playing under the helm of the now Talk 'N Text head coach Norman Black, the Blue Eagles cruised for a 5-peat championship, with the last championship coming at the expense of a feisty UST Growling Tigers squad.
The Katipunan-based squad also houses a number of national U-23 players that dominated the last edition of the Southeast Asian Games including big man Greg Slaughter and playmakers Kiefer Ravena and Ryan Buenafe.
The financially-challenged but bursting-with-talent Manila softball team finally made a breakthrough and won the championship of the World Series after a series of runner-up stints in the past.
Despite losing its first two games, the Team Manila softbelles went on to win the tournament, sweeping seven of its games before finally thrashing team California in a lopsided finals match of the tournament with a score of 14-2.
This is the 22nd staging of the PSA Awards and have acknowledged exceptional Filipino athletes who bring the Philippines in the map of world sports. The awards launched in 1981. - Rappler.com
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