The year 2019 was a bountiful time for Philippines. There were many athletes who came up with shining moments. There were upsets and there victories that came following a long journey after going through many ups and downs.
Their success stood side by side with the overall championship that the Philippines won in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Here is a rundown of the year’s Top 10 sports stories of the passing year.
1. Beermen’s dominance
San Miguel Beer won its eighth crown in 14 conferences in the Philippine Basketball Association.
The Beermen outplayed and outworked the TNT KaTropa to capture the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown via a 102-90 win last August before a big crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It was one of the sweetest championships for the Beermen in franchise history as they made it back-to-back from their Philippine Cup title conquest.
Chris McCullough followed up a 35-point game with another 35-point job in the Beermen’s final game of the conference as they bagged their eighth title in 14 conferences and 27th overall.
2. A perfect season for the Eagles
The Ateneo Blue Eagles achieved a perfect season in 2019.
Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena unloaded 17 and led the Blue Eagles to a 86-79 subduing of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers last October at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ateneo’s Game 2 win allowed the Blue Eagles to complete a historical 16-0 sweep of the 82nd University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball finals.
No team has ever done this before as Ateneo’s feat is now considered the longest winning streak in 26 years. The Blue Eagles, who alo took Game 1 with a 91-77 triumph, remained champions for a third straight season and after they
3. The Knights’ true grit
In Game 3 of the NCAA finals at the Mall of Asia Arena last October, the Letran Knights lost two key players to cramps and leaned on the defensive heroics of Jerrick Balanza in the dying seconds to upset the defending champion San Beda Red Lions, 81-79, and snatch the 95th NCAA men’s basketball crown.
Balanza blocked a three-point attempt by Evan Nelle at the buzzer, allowing the Knights to claim their 18th crown since 1938.
Balanza banged in a game-high 15 points for the Knights, who wrested the title in almost the same way when they last won at the Red Lions expense and with Aldin Ayo still calling the shots back in 2015.
The Knights put the Red Lions in an unfamiliar situation when they took the upperhand at halftime, 44-38, off a layup and triple from Ato Ular and Allen Mina.
And they held on to the lead they got and pulled away by as much as 13 points off King Caralipio’s two freebies, 69-59, in the closing minutes of the third.
4. Yulo’s grace and artistry
Carlos Edriel Yulo capped his campaign in the 41st FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on a stirring golden note last October in clinching the men’s floor exercise title at the Hans Schleyer Halle in Stuttgart, Germany.
Performing next to last among the eighth finalists, Yulo came through with an awe-inspiring display of grace, artistry and athleticism in securing the gold with an eye-popping score of 15.3 points.
Israel’s Artem Dolgopyat was the frontrunner with 15.2 points until the Pinoy bet’s turn came up.
Also playing a major factor in the victory was the degree of difficulty of Yulo’s routine – the highest among the entries at 6.500 to Dolgopyat’s 6.400. This proved to be his winning edge.Yulo’s stint in Stuttgart earned him a qualifying seat to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
5. First Olympic qualifier
The 23-year-old Ernest John Obiena was the first qualifier to the Tokyo Olympics quadrennial meet in athletics next year after he surpassed the qualifying standard last September.
Obiena, who is the 2019 Asian Athletics championship pole vault gold medalist and Philippine record holder, cleared 5.81 meters during pole vault meet in Chiara, Italy.
Because of this, Obiena went beyond the Olympic standard of 5.80 meters.
The 6’2” Obiena cleared the height on his third and last attempt, and bested five others for the gold medal.
Obiena later went for the Asian record by attempting to clear 5.9 meters, but he failed to clear the height.
Before going to Italy, Obiena cleared a height of 5.76 meters during a gold medal-clinching feat at the World University Games on July 12, 2019.
6. Still not over the hill
Manny Pacquiao defeated Keith Thurman via split decision for Thurman’s WBA (Super) welterweight title on July 20, 2019, in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Late in the first round, Pacquiao hit Thurman with a right hand and knocked him down. Thurman was moving backwards after a Pacquiao combination of body and head punches.
The first five rounds went to Pacquiao, who bloodied Thurman’s nose and forced him into a very intense fight.
Thurman looked to have regained his composure in the middle rounds and adjusted to Pacquiao’s offense in the second half of the fight.
Thurman was able to catch Pacquiao with some hard shots, but the Filipino icon would catch his foe again in the 10th round,
Two judges ruled in favor of Pacquiao with a score of 115–112 and one in favor of Thurman with a score of 114–113.
7. A beloved record shattered
Filipino-American sprinter Zion Corrales-Nelson shattered a 33-year-old Philippine women’s 200-meter run national record set by track legend Lydia de Vega-Mercado.
The 20-year-old Corrales-Nelson submitted a clocking of 23.18 seconds during the West Preliminary National Collegiate Athletic Association Finals in Sacramento California on May 23.
Her clocking eclipsed the 23.35-second mark of De Vega-Mercado during a meet in Walnut, California back in 1986.
It was Corrales, who first broke De Vega-Mercado’s mark this year, followed by Kristina Knott in the Southeast Asian Games.
8. The Miracle of 2019
The Philippines emerged as the overall champion of the 30th Southeast Asian Games campaign on home soil.
This was a repeat of what took place in 2005, when the country also hosted the biennial sporting event.
Filipino athletes collected a total of 149 golds, 117 silvers, and 121 bronze medal, surpassing the haul of 14 years ago with 113 golds, 84 silvers, and 94 bronzes.
Arnis collected the most number of gold medals, gathering 14, while athletics had 11, and dancesport chipped in 10 gold mints.
Taekwondo, boxing, and wushu also had significant contributions in the gold medal haul.
9. 96 straight wins and counting
The National Lady Bulldogs came up with another perfect run to claim their sixth straight University Athletic Association of the Philippines women’s title.
NU, coached by Patrick Aquino, stretched its streak to 96-0 after beating University of Santo Tomas in the finals.
Monique del Carmen shone the brightest for the Lady Bulldogs as she capped off her collegiate career with the Finals MVP plum.
NU also pulled off its latest feat without its star center Jack Animam, who missed the finals series due to an eye injury.
10. A world champion
Nesthy Petecio crowned herself as the second Filipina world boxing champion when she ruled the featherweight division of the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships last October 13 in Ulan Ude, Russia.
The 27-year-old Petecio won via split decision over the host country’s bet, Liudmila Vorontsove, with 3 judges—Australia (30-27), Korea (3027) and Ireland (29-28) ruling in the former’s favor.
She kept her composure throughout the fight and delivered the clearer and more solid blows in the three-round affair.
Petecio ended the Philippines’ world championship gold-medal drought after seven years.
She follows in the footsteps of Josie Gabuco’s title win in the light flyweight division over China’s Shiqu Xu back in 2012.