ERNEST JOHN “EJ” OBIENA will be Team Philippines’ flag-bearer in the traditional parade of nations during the May 12 opening ceremony of the 31st Southeast Asian Games at the MNy Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi.
And no less than Hidilyn Diaz, the country’s first Olympic gold medalist, fully supported Obiena, saying that her fellow Tokyo Olympian pole vaulter is the “story of every Filipino athlete who fights to bring home pride and glory to the country.”
“I’m very happy to see EJ as our flag bearer for Team Philippines,” said Diaz, who, like Obiena, will defend her weightlifting gold medal in the postponed Games from last year. “I’m happy for him and the rest of the Philippine delegation. I will support him.”
Diaz and Obiena could be holding the country’s colors together in the parade of nations, but the SEA Games allow only one athlete to be bestowed with the honor.
“There could only be one flag bearer for each country. We nominated Hidilyn and EJ, but it was turned down,” Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said. “Like Hidilyn, EJ has all the qualifications to be our flag bearer.”
Obiena retaining the SEA Games gold medal is a cinch. He won gold in the 2019 Philippine Games with a commanding leap of 5.45 meters and since then, has set the bar higher to a new Asian men’s record of 5.93 meters he set last year in Innsbruck, Austria, last year.
“It’s an honor,” Obiena said. “I was heading home after training here in Formia [Italy] when I received the message.”
As flag bearer, a big responsibility comes with the honor. But Obiena said he’s ready for the challenge.
“All I can do for now is to train harder and be better, and smarter,” the 26-year-old Obiena said. “I really want to defend my SEA Games title.”
The 6-foot-2 pole vaulter is one of 656 athletes who will be defending the country’s grip of the overall championship in the Games that Vietnam is hosting for only the second time since 2003.
The hosts programmed 40 sports—the Philippines is competing in 39 of them—which they intend to dominate. But Tolentino is undaunted.
“We are fielding a fighting team,” Tolentino said.
Team Philippines will fly to Vietnam in batches with the main bulk set to leave on May 10, two days before the opening ceremony. The Games end on May 23.
Ateneo, UP face off again for UAAP title
December 7, 2022 9:54 p.m.
For the second straight season, it will be Ateneo de Manila University versus University of the Philippines in the UAAP men’s basketball finals.
Moments after the Fighting Maroons escaped National University, the Blue Eagles thrashed Adamson University, 81-60, to advance to its sixth consecutive Finals appearance on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game One of the best-of-three championship series will be on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“We had our best offensive performance of the year. I think when you get some time to prepare and your opponent doesn’t have much time and they were playing on heart, they were playing on Nash’s brain, and all of those things they have a ton of,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
“But the cauldron of the semifinals you need more than that you need time to prepare, you need rest, and you need a full team hitting on all cylinders and tonight we were that team,” continued Baldwin.
Already ahead by eight early in the third period, Dave Ildefonso scored eight straight points before Ange Kouame and Chris Koon connived to end the quarter with 19 unanswered points and give Ateneo a 27-point advantage heading into the fourth, 63-36.
Sean Quitevis then opened the payoff frame with another trey to put the Blue Eagles up by 30 with 9:14 left, 66-36, before Jed Colonia made the Soaring Falcons’ first basket in nine minutes with 8:30 to go. Jerom Lastimosa last scored on a layup at the 7:27 mark of the third.
Forthsky Padrigao had 16 points and five assists, while Koon was 4-of-5 from deep to end with 15 points to go with five assists and a plus-21 in his 19 minutes on the floor.
Kai Ballungay chimed in 13 points, while Ildefonso had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Lastimosa was the lone Falcon in double figures with 10 points on a woeful 4-of-15 shooting from the field.
Adamson eliminates La Salle, claims last seat in Final 4
December 4, 2020 10:11 p.m.
Adamson University knocked out De La Salle University, 80-76, to grab the last Final Four spot in the UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament, Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Soaring Falcons will face top seed Ateneo de Manila University, which holds a twice-to-beat edge, in the Final Four on Wednesday, 6 p.m., at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We’re happy to be in the Final Four. We’re actually gatecrashing the Final Four. People didn’t expect us to be in the Final Four, they expected I don’t know what you call them… big spenders. To me, they’re all big spenders but I’m happy the team did their part,” said Adamson coach Nash Racela.
“We will check our emotions because we don’t want to be in a high because may trabaho pa and we’re still gonna play Wednesday and the weekend,” he added.
With the Falcons down by a single point, Lenda Douanga took matters into his own hands, draining a push shot before dishing to Cedrick Manzano the next play for the reverse layup and a three-point Adamson lead with 58.8 seconds left, 77-74.
After multiple empty possessions on both ends, Evan Nelle came up clutch, stealing Joem Sabandal’s inbound and burying a lay-in to pull La Salle within one with 15.4 ticks to go, 76-77.
The Green Archers were forced to put Jerom Lastimosa on the line in the ensuing play, which the Soaring Falcon made both to push them up by three anew, 79-76, before Nelle missed his three-pointer attempt badly, only hitting the side of the board as Joshua Yerro iced the game from the charity stripe.
La Salle led by as much as 13 in the third frame, 51-38, but Lastimosa went ballistic, going for 11 from his 22 points there to help Adamson inch within one at the end of the quarter, 59-60.
Lastimosa also added six assists and a steal, while Yerro had 13 points and six rebounds.
AP Manlapaz chimed in 22 points, while Douanga got 10 points and seven rebounds.
In the sudden death playoff for fourth seed, the Green Archers did not have three of their best players in Schonny Winston, Mike Phillips, and Kevin Quiambao.
URCC 81: Decades of Success happens Dec. 6 in Okada
November 27, 2022 7:22 p.m.
THE Universal Reality Combat Championship will celebrate two decades of greatness titled the “Decades of Success” in a fight night on December 6, featuring the country’s best mixed martial artists at the Okada Manila in Parañaque City.
Three years since the last time they held their last main event, URCC founding president Alvin Aguilar announced the coming URCC 81 will definitely be a night to remember with events like the 3 Versus 3, MMA fight and the bare-knuckle bouts.
“Our first main event in three years will definitely be an unforgettable night in mixed martial arts. We have a lot of good fighters and everyone is very excited,” Aguilar said.
The last time URCC held a main event — Retribution— was in November 2019, at the same venue. Despite the pandemic, URCC didn’t stop as it held three fight nights when the government finally allowed contact sports.
In celebrating URCC’s main event return, Aguilar will be having Team Philippines of Sugar Ray “Mammoth” Estroso, Caloy “Bad Boy” Baduria and Boss Bullet Manliclic taking up against South Koreans Jeong Minhun, Choi Wontae and Jeon Youngjun in an exciting 3 versus 3 event.
“We have to go up against other Asian countries before we start expanding. So we meet Korea then later on China again and then we will invite people from Russia and the USA. This is the fourth time we will be holding this 3 versus 3 fight,” Aguilar said, who also expects the other events to live up to the hype.
A URCC welterweight interim championship is also set between Filipino Arvin Chan and American Will Chope as the other highlight of the main event presented by Okada Manila and sponsored by Winzir.
URCC Global Chairman Arnold Vegafria said the promotions have been evolving since 2002, becoming a household name in the local mixed martial arts industry, where it discovered great MMA fighters and promoted quality fights abroad.
For inquiries about tickets sale, go to www.urcc.online and download app https://apps.wix.com/place-invites/join-lp/b4e05b90-55a0-40a8-8fac-17ccf4a2c074?ref=pre_banner_top which is available for iOS and Google.
Other MMA undercard bouts feature Dunlee Stewart facing John Tirona in a 170 lbs bout, followed by Gester Maglaque meeting Mariano Jones in an 185 lbs bout; Kimbert Alintozon battling Junie Kimayong (125 lbs); Rhyle Lugo clashing against Alex Aballe (145 lbs) and Eros Baluyot taking on MJ Abrillo (125 lbs).
For the thrilling bare-knuckle competitions, Damsa Abrenica collides with Joseph “King Pinoy” Cabral, while Dondon Serrano squares off with Sherwin Niro and Denzel Dimaguila fights Mark Jalaron.
Details of the fight and future fight cards are available to download at https://apps.wix.com/place-invites/join-lp/b4e05b90-55a0-40a8-8fac-17ccf4a2c074?ref=pre_banner_top, which is available for iOS and Google.