Sports 2015

Sports 2015

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column-Vincent Juico-Sports without BordersTHE year 2015 was a positive year for sports. In June, the Golden State Warriors, already overflowing with talent, further cemented their place in National Basketball Association (NBA) history by fielding a line-up that, to a man, is willing to make a sacrifice—unselfishly moving the “small ball” around breaking the glass ceiling of “height is might.”

The Warriors proved that you can win a championship with jump shots and three pointers, as a product of unselfishness complemented by the all too familiar recipe of defense and rebounding.

The National Football League’s (NFL) Super Bowl  was embroiled in “deflategate,” where the eventual champion New England Patriots allegedly used underinflated balls (which according to most players are easier to grip and control) in the opening half of their American Football Conference Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts in January.

Fingers pointed at Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady. According to investigators Brady was “aware” of the incident.  The NFL suspended Brady for four games which he promptly challenged in court and won. The Patriots started 10-0 before losing their first game and once again are the favorites to win it all early next year.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed-martial arts superstar Ronda Rousey, Jose Aldo and Chris Weidman will be remembered for not losing their title belts, but how they lost it. Rousey relinquished her reign as UFC women’s bantamweight champion to then undefeated challenger Holly Holm to begin her own rule as women’s bantamweight titleholder. Rousey lost the title in 14 seconds in the opening round using a strategy that miserably backfired. You do not stand up with a striker like Holm and expect to win.

Aldo loses a fight after 10 years. Aldo to defend his UFC men’s featherweight title for the first time, losing to Conor McGregor in 13 seconds of the first round to claim the championship, becoming the new featherweight champion. With the victory, McGregor of Dublin, Ireland, established the record for fastest knockout in the history of UFC title fights. Expect a slew of challengers to knock on McGregor’s door begging for a championship shot against the self-proclaimed “Master of Movement”.

.After all the word war and the verbal vitriol going back and forth, the “Fight of the Century” between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally happened in May. The fight was a disappointment to put it mildly, it was the “running and hugging fight of the century,” many sudden armchair boxing analysts (yours truly guilty as charged) dubbed the fight the “Dud of the Century.” Mayweather resorted to running and hugging, showing all of us that the sport of boxing is both a marathon and a sprint…literally.

Pacquiao later revealed after the fight that he suffered a shoulder injury during training, which many unfairly thought was a cop out or an excuse for losing the fight. I guess we’ll never know what could’ve, should’ve and would’ve happened if Pacquiao was 100 percent.

Last but not the least is the ongoing retirement tour of Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. The third all-time leading scorer in National Basketball Association history announced a few weeks ago that this season, his 20th in both the league and with the Lakers, the only franchise he’s ever known through an emotional poem “Dear Basketball” on The Players’ Tribune web site. The Lakers, as of this writing, holds the league’s second worst record at 5-23. Opposing players and coaches have referred to Bryant as “their Michael Jordan,” in reference to arguably the greatest player ever to play basketball.

Over in the local sports scene, the Far Eastern University Tamarraws win their 20th University Athletic Association of the Philippines basketball title at the expense of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers who, in the championship game, seemed to lack the intensity they displayed in Game Two of the best-of-three series.

The Azkals continue to help develop the sport of football with their thrilling exploits, even if they fail to achieve loftier heights. Credit still goes to them.

Nonito Donaire Jr. captured the World Boxing Organization super bantamweight title to prove that he still has what it takes to reclaim his spot among the world’ s best pound-for-pound fighters.

In track and field, the International Association of Athletics Federations suspends the Russian track and field team for illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs, thus, denying the Russians the chance to participate in the centerpiece athletics competitions in the 2016 Rio Olympics in August.

Well folks, this all for now, for 2015 as I wish everyone a sporty, safe, prosperous and happy New Year. May we all get a fresh start in 2016 filled with second chances.