For EJ Obiena, there is no denying that he now belongs to the elite circle of vaulters.
After asserting his dominance against the best vaulters in the world, Obiena announced his arrival, saying that he is now getting closer to his goal of becoming one of the best vaulters in the world.
“Just like everyone else, my goal is to be the best,” said the 24-year-od Filipino who is training under the watchful eyes of Vitaly Petrov in Formia, Italy.
“I know that I belong in this elite field of athletes. That’s the main reason why I got accepted to these prestigious competitions.”
Obiena’s road to glory was littered with tears and frustrations.
He was supposed to conquer the gold medal in the 29th Southeast Asian Games when he crashed with an anterior cruciate ligament injury a day before departing for the Malaysian capital in 2018.
With his knee far from perfect form, he had a forgettable performance in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, raising doubts on his ability to make it to the Tokyo Olympics.
But the following year, Obiena pulled off a shocker when he tallied a personal-best of 5.81 meters in an Olympic-qualifying tournament in Italy.
With an Olympic spot safely on his pocket, he vindicated himself with a gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games before a massive home crowd at the New Clark City in Tarlac.
He was unstoppable since then.
As soon as the European tourneys kicked off, Obiena stood his ground against the likes of Rio de Janeiro Olympics titlist Thiago Braz of Brazil and London Games supremo Renauld Lavillenie of Frances and world champions Sam Kendricks of the United States and Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland.
His brightest moment came when he won the gold medal in the 59th Ostrava Golden Spike tournament in Czech Republic last week with a vault of 5.74 meters.
“We’re all aiming for the same thing. These guys are the best at what they are doing and they really help me a lot,” said Obiena, bracing for a dramatic encounter with world record holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden in the Summer Games next year.
“I’m friends with these people, they help me a lot. And we give equal respect to each and everyone when we are in the field.”
Obiena said he would not leave stone unturned in giving the Philippines its first Olympic gold medal.
“Everybody knows that I want to win, that’s the biggest thing that I want to achieve. I know what type of athlete I am, and I know what type of athlete I want to be soon,” he said.
“I know that I belong here, and I am just starting to get into this. I’m an Asian who is competing in a European field — that makes it a lot harder.”
“I just need to show it a little bit more. It’s not something that I will just keep on saying out loud.”
Phoenix includes Abueva in roster for PBA bubble
Phoenix Super LPG is ready to gamble on Calvin Abueva when the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup resumes on 9 October.
Team manager Paolo Bugia said they have included the fiery forward in their 15-man roster despite having no assurance that he would be reinstated to see action the PBA bubble in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
Abueva already completed all requirements for his reinstatement, but PBA commissioner Willie Marcial has yet to formally lift his indefinite suspension that has been dragging for more than a year.
“We’re definitely putting him on the roster with the hopes of bringing him there, but we’re hopeful that commissioner, before the opening on 9 October, will get him reinstated,” Bugia said in a telephone interview.
“We’re taking that risk and we’re optimistic because it’s been a long time coming and we’ve seen the changes in Calvin both on and off the court. Hopefully, the commissioner will reconsider his reinstatement.”
Bugia said Abueva is worth the roster spot.
“I think based on the rules of the league, once we decided not to reinstate Calvin, we cannot bring in another player,” Bugia said.
“So, we will have to live with it, but we’re talking the risk because I think he’s worth it.”
Even with Abueva staying suspended, the Fuel Masters still have a loaded frontcourt in Jason Perkins, JC Intal, Jake Pascual, Alex Mallari, Justin Chua and Dave Marcelo.
“As of now, we will stick with the current team because it’s a short-term plan,” Bugia said.
“But if he does get reinstated, that’s going to be a huge factor for us.”
Thompson helps keep Altas intact
Scottie Thompson played the role of ambassador when Frankie Lim decided to step down as head coach of University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Speaking in the latest edition of The Athletes’ Tribune, Thompson said the owners of Perpetual sought his help to convince players to stay in the wake of Lim’s sudden resignation.
“The owners talked to me and asked me if I can speak to the players and convince them to stay,” said Thompson, the Barangay Ginebra swingman who is regarded as one of the most successful alumni of Perpetual.
“They worry that the players might transfer to other school due to what happened.”
In an interview with Daily Tribune, Lim said his contract was supposed to be effective until November, but was suspended last July as he started missing his paychecks.
He quit, leaving behind a good run in Season 94 with Prince Eze emerging as Most Valuable Players (MVP).
Thompson said he is repaying Perpetual’s trust in him by helping it in keeping the team intact.
“That’s the favor they asked from me — to ask the players not to transfer to other school or leave the program,” said Thompson, a four-time PBA champion and the Finals MVP in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
With Thompson delivering the pitches, the Altas managed to keep its promising core of Jielo Razon and Tonton Peralta as well as 6-foot-2 forward Kim Aurin, who anchored the team’s 5-13 win-loss record last season.
“I am in constant communication with the school’s owner and if ever they need something from me, I am willing to help in any way I can,” Thompson said.
“It’s because they are also helping me whenever I needed something.”
Murray to the rescue as Nuggets hold off Lakers
Jamal Murray scored 28 points as the Denver Nuggets held off a ferocious late fightback from the Los Angeles Lakers to roar back into contention in the Western Conference finals series on Tuesday.
Murray nailed two crucial late three-pointers in the closing minutes as Denver held on for a 114-106 victory in game three to reduce the Lakers lead in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.
But the Nuggets — who looked in complete control for long periods of the contest — were given a mighty scare by the Lakers in a thrilling fourth quarter battle.
The Lakers had trailed by 20 points with just over 10 minutes remaining in the contest but whittled away the Denver lead to just three points with 3min 53sec left on the clock in Orlando.
But just as it looked as if LeBron James and Anthony Davis were poised to complete a remarkable comeback, Murray regrouped to take the game away from the Lakers.
The 23-year-old Canadian’s three-pointer from 26 feet gave Denver a seven-point advantage at 106-99 and he then provided the assist for Paul Millsap to make it 108-99.
With less than a minute on the clock, Murray struck the dagger blow with a 29-foot three-point jumpshot to make it 111-99 and effectively seal victory.
The Lakers meanwhile were left reflecting on an uneven display which ultimately left James and Davis with too much to do.
James led the scoring with a triple double comprised of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, with six turnovers. Davis had 27 points, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (12) and Kyle Kuzma (11) the only other Lakers players to crack double figures.
Murray, who also had 12 assists, was backed with 26 points from Jerami Grant while Nikola Jokic weighed in with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Game four in the series takes place in Orlando on Thursday.
Aranas bares partial ticket for POC polls
Philippine Olympic Committee presidential candidate Clint Aranas has announced his running mates for the chairmanship and vice-presidential positions for the upcoming board elections in November.
Aranas, who is currently serving as the archery chief, confirmed that incumbent POC chairman and handball president Steve Hontiveros will be seeking another term under his slate, while athletics head and former Philippine Sports Commission chairman Philip Ella Juico will be joining them as 1st vice-president candidate.
Meanwhile, rugby president Ada Milby, who originally intended to run independently for the 2nd vice-president position, has been adopted under Aranas’ lineup.
With his aim of providing a transparent governance in the POC, Aranas said that the three officials have already shown their experiences in their respective national sports associations.
“These three [candidates] have already shown their brilliance and track record within their NSA, and we can see that they will be vital in improving the governance of the POC,” said Aranas, a noted tax lawyer and former president of Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).
Aranas and his crew will be facing the roster of incumbent POC president Bambol Tolentino, who will be joined by basketball president Al Panlilio and fencing and modern pentathlon chief Richard Gomez for the vice-presidential posts.
Donovan named new Chicago Bulls head coach
The Chicago Bulls named Billy Donovan as the team’s new head coach on Tuesday, replacing Jim Boylen who was fired last month after the franchise’s latest failure to make the playoffs.
Donovan, 55, joins the Bulls after parting company with the Oklahoma City Thunder by mutual agreement earlier this month after his team were eliminated from the postseason.
“We are very pleased to welcome Billy and his family to the Chicago Bulls,” Chicago Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said in a statement.
“The success that he has sustained over the course of his coaching career puts him on a different level. We feel his ability to help his players reach their potential, both individually and collectively, will mesh well with our roster.
“Whether as a player or as a coach, he has won everywhere his career has taken him, and we hope that will continue here in Chicago.”
Donovan heads to Chicago after a broadly successful five-year stint with the Thunder.
The team compiled a winning record during his reign, with 243 victories against 157 defeats, and made five consecutive trips to the postseason.
This season he was named coach of the year alongside Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer by the National Basketball Coaches Association.
The Bulls have failed to reach the playoffs for the past three seasons, and have not appeared in an NBA Finals since the 1997-1998 season when Michael Jordan led the franchise to victory over the Utah Jazz.
Tolentino shows force
Incumbent Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino will be gunning for a fresh four-year term with a powerhouse ticket in the POC elections on 27 November.
Speaking in the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday, Tolentino declared that Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio and Philippine Fencing Association chief Richard Gomez have decided to join forces with him.
Panlilio will run as 1st vice president while Gomez will seek the 2nd vice president post, according to Tolentino, who likewise formally declared his intention to seek a four-year term.
Panlilio’s main backer is tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, who supports various sports like boxing, weightlifting, gymnastics, badminton, football, taekwondo, golf, cycling, skateboarding and a few more.
Tolentino assumed the POC presidency only in July last year to use the unfinished term of boxing boss Ricky Vargas, who was forced to step down.
“My ticket is almost complete,” Tolentino, also a Tagaytay congressman said during the weekly forum backed by San Miguel Corporation, Go For Gold, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, stressing that he will reveal the complete roster next week.
The other elective posts are those of chairman, treasurer, auditor and members of the board while the position of secretary general will be done by appointment.
“I will definitely run for president. I just filled up the gap when Vargas resigned,” Tolentino said.
“We are all free to run and aspire for the (POC) presidency.”
Set to challenge Tolentino for the presidency is World Archery Philippines president and renowned tax lawyer Clint Aranas, who enjoys the support of the majority in the POC executive council.
There will be over 50 voting members that will take part in the elections that will take place in a soon-to-be-named venue and Tolentino said those attending will have to undergo swab testing in line with government safety protocols.
Former International Olympic Committee representative to the country Frank Elizalde, lawyer Teddy Kalaw and Cong. Eric Martinez, the chairman of the House youth and sports committee, will draft the guidelines after being tapped as members of the elections committee.
They will present the election rules before the general assembly on 30 September while the filing of certificate of candidacy starts on 1 October.
Meanwhile, Tolentino believes athletes from 19 national sports associations (NSA) are expected to return to training camp not later than November.
“By October, perhaps, we would already be on modified general community quarantine and they will be allowed to train again.”
Tolentino made it clear, though, that only athletes eyeing to compete in Tokyo Olympic qualifying events will be given the green light to train again.
“Let us prioritize those NSA that are getting ready for the Olympic qualifying (tournaments).”
Tolentino admits that the delay in the decision to revert to training mode was due to “safety concerns.”
The facilities are being used as COVID-19 treatment centers, said Tolentino, referring to the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and Philsports in Pasig as prime examples.
Banned Geisler wants truth, justice
Former Olympian Donnie Geisler expressed frustration over his expulsion from the Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA).
Geisler, who represented the country in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, tagged his expulsion from the federation as an “unexpected” and “unfortunate” decision.
He said all accusations hurled at him by federation officials were baseless and were just meant to stop him from pursuing his business and passion in teaching the sport.
“From the looks of it, these are all baseless and intended to create leverage against me,” said Geisler in a statement that came a day after the PTA announced that he had been declared as persona non-grata.
“The truth is on my side and I will continue with this uphill battle until such time that discriminatory actions are stopped and justice is served.”
The feud between Geisler and the federation that gave him a break during his playing days had been simmering for the past few months.
It started when Geisler invited national athletes Samuel Morrison and Arven Tolentino to conduct online training in his Donnie Geisler Taekwondo Training Center without seeking permission from the PTA.
It didn’t sit well with the federation as it slapped Morrison and Tolentino with suspension while banning other national team members from doing business with him.
Geisler filed a case before the Philippine Competition Commission last May, saying that what the federation’s decision was discriminatory and anti-competitive against him.
Two months later, he filed a pair of legal cases, this time libel and cyber libel allegations against PTA secretary general Rocky Samson.
Last Monday, the PTA formally cut its ties with its former golden boy as Manolo Gabriel, the PTA sanction committee chairman, announced that they have declared Geisler persona non-grata and stripped him of his rights and privileges as member of the federation.
“We still want to get to the bottom of this issue, we know that there’s truth that must be heard coming from my side,” Geisler said.
“Now, we are doing our moves. We are going to answer this soon. I’m sure this will not end here. A lot of things will be coming along the way.”
Mendiola eyes AFC Cup berth
Mendiola FC will be focused on chasing a slot in the AFC Cup when it competes in the upcoming season of the Philippine Football League (PFL) next month.
Guesting in an episode of Eat, Sleep, Breathe Football podcast, Mendiola coach Nhiboy Pedimonte said they are looking to come up with a strong performance in a bid to qualify in the AFC Cup next year.
Pedimonte said their training inside a bubble setup at the Philippine Football Federation training facility in Carmona, Cavite is in full blast and his wards are in high morale, hoping to earn a ticket on the prestigious continental tournament.
Only the top two teams in the PFL would qualify in the AFC Cup.
Last year, powerhouse squads Ceres Negros FC and Kaya Iloilo FC bagged the honors.
The Busmen, however, changed their ownership group, prompting new team United City FC to take over its AFC Cup slot with practically in intact roster bannered by Philippine Azkals skipper Stephan Schrock.
“We always talk within the team and the main target this season is to get that AFC Cup slot,” Pedimonte, who is also the head coach of San Beda University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, said.
“The limited training situation is very hard now, but the players are cooperating very well with us.”
Pedimonte said they are banking on their impressive run in the 2019 Copa Paulino Alcantara, where they put a gallant stand before bowing to United City FC in the semifinals.
Tipped to carry the cudgels are skipper Ashley Flores and Nimrod Balabat together with reinforcements like Iranian striker Hamed Hajimehdi and Ivorian stopper Dini Outtara.
“We have already shown it in the last Copa Alcantara, but we fell short there. We are hoping that this season, we can have our best shot as a challenger for an AFC Cup slot,” Pedimonte said.
“I know it’s a huge task for the team. But in reality, I know that we can shoot for that slot.”
BSCP hunts new boss
The Billiards and Snookers Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) is looking for a new president following the resignation of lawyer Ramon Malinao due to health concerns.
BSCP secretary general Robert Mananquil said they would be convening in n executive board meeting to file a resolution on the resignation of Malinao and plot their next course of action, especially with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) elections drawing near.
The POC polls will be on 27 November, but the filing of candidacy would start next month.
Malinao, who was elected as president in 2016, stepped down as president, saying that his doctors advised him to take a leave due to his deteriorating health.
Mananquil said BSCP vice president Mahar Mangahas is mandated to replace Malinao, but they still have to convene to formalize the succession.
“There is a provision in our by-laws about succession. I have to talk to Mahar first because he is the legitimate successor,” said Mananquil, who is also a director of the POC.
“But we have to first convene within the board to come up with a resolution about the resignation of Atty. Malinao.”
Mananquil said conducting an election at this point is not viable so one of their options is to appoint a temporary president should Mangahas decline the position.
“If he’s not willing to take the position, then we will just appoint within the board members. Well, we cannot conduct an election at this moment because of the pandemic,” he said, adding that they can still function even without a sitting president.