PRRD sends off team Ph to Rio Olympics, vows more support for athletes

MANILA (Presidential Communications Office) — President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday led government officials in the send-off ceremony for the Philippine delegation to the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“Just try your best, and the conscious mind would always be in the direction of love of country,” the President told the members of Team Philippines, adding that “of the 100 million Filipinos plus, few are given the opportunity to be a part of a team or to be working for government and it’s not given to everybody.”

The President vowed that he will exert efforts to source funds for the athletes by instituting reforms in government agencies and using public funds for the good of all Filipinos.

Six of the 12 Rio Olympians were present during the momentous event, namely: long jumper Maristela Torres, golfer Miguel Tabuena, taekwondo jin Kirstie Elaine Alora, weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Nestor Colonia, and table tennis player Ian Lariba. The other six athletes are training abroad.

During the send-off, President Duterte also increased the individual allowance of the delegates to the quadrennial games, which he hopes would boost the morale of the Rio-bound athletes.

Leading the country’s sports officials during the ceremony at Malacanan Palace were Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, and Jose “Joey” Romasanta, POC first vice president who is also the Chef-de-Mission for the Philippine delegation.

To date, the highest honor garnered by the country from the Olympics were two silver medals, both in boxing. Anthony Villanueva gave the Philippines its first silver medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, and 32 years later, Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco captured the silver during the 1996 Atlanta Games. PND

Phl bows to Japan in Aspac opener

CLARK – Host Philippines, represented by first-timer Sarangani, started its bid in the Asia Pacific Intermediate Baseball Tournament on a losing note, yielding to fancied Japan, 0-8, on a rainy Monday at Clark International Sports Complex at The Villages here.

Still adjusting to competition at this level, the Sarangani batters couldn’t hold fort on defense in the fateful second inning, where they allowed the Japanese to rack up a seven-run binge from which they couldn’t recover.
Taisei Okui and Taketo Ikenaka pounced on successive passed balls by Phl to open scoring for Japan.
Yuma Hara made it 4-0 with a two-run double before Suguru Taniguchi dashed home while the Pinoys were picking off Seiya Matsushita.
Hara scored off a balk then Issei Yoshizaki drove in Komin Toda as Japan put the game beyond Phl’s reach in the first game of the tournament sponsored by Mister Donut and the Philippine Sports Commission.
“Maganda naman ang pinakita ng mga bata (They played well) considering this is our first time and we played Japan, which is used to playing in the World Series,” said coach Lord Ken Naval, whose Sarangani team is being cheered on by a contingent of supporters led by Gov. Steve Solon, Vice Gov, Elmer De Peralta, Maitum, Sarangani Mayor Alexander Bryan Riganit and Provincial Board members along with parents.
“We did our best. We were hitting their pitches but just couldn’t translate it to runs, and we had some catching errors,” he added.
Phl’s other representive, ILLAM, was playing Australia in the Senior League Baseball division at presstime.
Guam thwarted Seniors holder CNMI in the opener, 12-7.(pr)

Streakin’ Lascuña eyes No. 4 at NOGCC

Coming out of a tight finish a winner a third time around, Tony Lascuña exudes confidence as he heads to the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic, shooting for fourth straight and fifth overall at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club in Bacolod starting Wednesday (July 13).
“This win further boosted my confidence going to Marapara. I really feel good and will go for another win,” said the 46-year-old veteran Davaoeño shotmaker, after rallying from three shots down with a closing bogey-free 65 at the Bacolod Golf and Country Club in Binitin then nipped Dutch Guido Van der Valk and American Micah Shin on the first playoff hole to bag the ICTSI Bacolod Golf Challenge crown last Saturday.
It was Lascuña’s third straight victory in this year’s Philippine Golf Tour, counting his one-shot win over Japanese Ryoma Miki at Eagle Ridge and a nine-stroke romp over Zanieboy Gialon and Orlan Sumcad at Forest Hills last month.
That should make him the player to beat at the former Marapara layout although Van der Valk and Shin, along with the other local top guns will also be going all-out to foil his bid while fueling their respective title drives in the P1.5 million event serving as the 10th leg of this year’s circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
But Lascuña, who also won at Luisita last April, isn’t only coming into the event riding on a three-win run but also brings with him the bragging rights as the winner at NOGCC when it last hosted a PGT leg in 2014. He beat Elmer Salvador and amateur Lloyd Go by four to spark a three-leg sweep and finish with five legs wins on his way to copping his third straight OOM title.
“I always love to play at Marapara, despite its tough condition especially in the presence of the wind,” said Lascuña. “But I expect another tight finish since everybody will be trying to stop my streak.”
They include Van der Valk and Shin, who fell short of their bid to nail a breakthrough on the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. with shaky backside stints at Binitin, enabling Lascuña to gain a crack at the title and eventually snatch the win.
Others tipped to contend for the top P270,000 are Jay Bayron, Cassius Casas, Mhark Fernando and Sumcad who all bounced back into contention in the final round at Binitin but failed to match Lascuña’ solid finish.
Meanwhile, a select number of pros test the NOGCC layout in tomorrow’s pro-am tournament where they will be paired with the amateur guests and officials of the event’s chief backers, including Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.(pr)

Blu Girls snap skid, edge Venezuelans

The Philippines finally chalked up a win in the World Cup of Softball XI as the World No. 23 Blu Girls edged No. 19 Venezuela, 2-1, Saturday at ASA Hall of Fame Complex’s Field 3 in Oklahoma City (Sunday in Manila).

Fil-Am Dani Gilmore blasted a solo home run in the third inning and Angelie Ursabia stole home in the sixth to give the Cebuana Lhuillier-backed Filipinas the cushion that led to their breakthrough victory after five consecutive losses. Venezuela remained winless at 0-5.
“This tournament gave us a glimpse of how steep the climb we have to make if we want to contend in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. What’s good to see through is that our girls fought hard and continued to improve in each game,” said Asaphil president Jean Henri Lhuillier.
The Blu Girls will next compete in the World Women’s Softball Championships in Surrey, Canada on July 15-24 as part of their four-year plan towards qualifying and competing in the Tokyo Games.
Later in the day, the Blu Girls pushed world No. 3 Australia to the limit before yielding a 2-3 loss.
The upset-conscious Phl softbelles enjoyed a 2-1 upperhand up until the bottom seventh, where they conceded two costly runs that allowed the fancied Aussies to escape with the triumph.
“We gave Australia, the No. 3 team in the world, hell in seven innings. This is a good sign going to the World Championships in Canada on July 15-24,” Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines executive director Jun Veloso said.
Sierra Lange stood at the forefront of the Blu Girls’ defense against Venezuela, pitching a five-hitter in a no-relief job while striking out three batters. She gave up a solo homer to Yaicey Sojo in the bottom seventh but the Pinays held on preserve the win.
The Blu Girls had a big fifth inning against the Aussies, leaning on Garie Blando’s sacrifice RBI and Chelsea Suitos’ run to wipe out a 0-1 deficit and storm ahead.
The Aussies, though, had the last say. Carmelie Sorensen was hit by a pitch in a bases-loaded situation, allowing Jade Wall to score the tying run. Georgia Blaire then launched a sacrifice fly that enabled Clare Warwick to make the go-ahead run and Australia went on to pick up its fourth win in five outings.(pr)

Cebu all set for biggest Cobra Ironman 70.3

The stage is set for the biggest triathlon event on Philippine soil as the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships presented by Ford blasts off on Aug. 7 in Cebu.

Close to 3,000 competitors led by defending champions Tim Reed and Caroline Steffen are set to answer the starting gun for the prestigious race that starts and ends at Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa. This will mark the first time the AsPac tourney will be held outside of Australia.
“On Aug. 7, we’ll have over 2,900 athletes from 43 countries, marking the biggest triathlon in the history of the Philippines,” Wilfred Uytengsu, president of the organizing Sunrise Events, Inc. said during yesterday’s kick-off event at Shangri-La at The Fort.
“We will assemble the largest cast of professional triathletes – over 30, many of whom are world champions competing and preparing not just for the rights to be Asia Pacific champion but also for the world championships in Australia set a few months after the race,” he added.
Produced and organized by Sunrise Events and backed by Cobra Energy Drink as title sponsor with Ford as Presenting Sponsor, the 1.9K swim, 90K bike, 21K run race will also offer the biggest prize money ever in the Philippines at $75,000 and the highest points earned.
Uytengsu was joined in the launch by Hubert Tan, Asia Brewery, Inc. Senior Vice President, Commercial Division, Ford Philippines managing director Lance Mosley, Tourism Promotions Board COO Domingo Ramon Enerio, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, Cebu Provincial Administrator Mark Tolentino, Globe Telecoms VP for content Jil Go, Shangri-La Mactan director of sales Natalia Zotova, and renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue, who once more designed the medals for the winners. Matteo Guidicelli co-hosted the launch with Chiqui Reyes.
“On its fifth year in Cebu, the Province will be ready to welcome all participants and their families with the traditional Cebuano warmth and festivities,” said Tolentino.
“Year on year, we dream bigger, we grow stronger and we aim to achieve greater heights. For eight years we’re able to successfully grow and build a community of enthusiasts who dare to push their mind, body and spirit to its limit. And on this year, first time in the history of Ironman 70.3 that the Asia Pacific Championship is outside Australia. We celebrate and share this moment of well-deserved success with everyone behind Cobra Ironman,” said Tan.
The event backed by Ford as presenting sponsor, Globe as official wireless and broadband services partner, Philippine Airlines, Summit Water, Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board, 2Go Express (official courier and logistics partner), Asics, Gatorade, Mactan Resort and Spa, Cebu Province, Lapu Lapu City, Cebu City, Talisay City, Prudential Guarantee, Oakley and Timex will offers 50 slots to the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Action will be aired live on courtesy of Globe Telecoms, according to SEI.
 Celebrities slated to see action include Piolo Pascual, Paul Jake Castillo, Dingdong Dantes, Gretchen Fullido, Kim Atienza, Apl de Ap, Dyan Castillejo, Ivan Carapiet, Bubbles Paraiso, Xander Angeles, Anthony and Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan, Sara Black, Gilbert Remulla, and SEI’s Uytengsu.
Other sponsors are Alaska, David’s Salon, Intercare, Gu gel, Kenneth Cobonpue, Megaworld Mactan Newtown, Sun Life Financial, TYR, media partners The Philippine Star, ABS-CBN Sports+Action, TriLife Magazine, AsiaTri, FinisherPix, technology partner Xurpas, official hotels Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa, Be Resorts Mactan, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan, Waterfront Hotel and Casino Mactan, Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu and official registration partner Active Network.(pr)

Juvic routs field, cops Aboitiz crown by 8

Juvic Pagunan receives his trophy and replica of his cheque worth $17,500 from Aboitiz Corporate Marketing Communications manager Victoria Vicente after ruling the 2015 Aboitiz Invitational via an emphatic 8-shot romp at Southwoods’ Legends course.(pr)

Juvic Pagunsan stamped his class over Pijit Petchkasem and Angelo Que with an early burst of birdies, turning what was expected to be a wild finish into a runaway eight-shot romp in the Aboitiz Invitational at Southwoods’ Legends course here yesterday.
Tied with the Thai ace and one up on the three-time Asian Tour winner after 54 holes, Pagunsan needed just four pars to seize control in the early going then flashed his vaunted shotmaking and iron game to fire four birdies in the next five holes which Petchkasem and Que failed to match to virtually settle the outcome.
He wound up with a six-under 65, another bogey-free round that has marked his solid start in the $100,000 event sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, for a 72-hole aggregate of 20-under 264.
“It’s a nice win. I was able to string up a good game this week,” said Pagunsan, who pocketed the top $17,500 purse for his maiden victory on the Asian Development Tour, a farm league of the Asian Tour, which he dominated in 2011 by winning the coveted Order of Merit title.
It was also Pagunsan’s first victory on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, which he was forced to skip the last two-and-a-half years after being sacked by the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. for abandoning a tournament without prior notice.
As a former Asian Tour OOM winner, Pagunsan gained a card in the lucrative Japan PGA Tour which he made as base during his suspension that saw him post seven top 10 finishes, including a runner-up finish in Mizuno Open last year.
More importantly, the Japan stint further honed his talent and skills, which he put in full display in all four days this week, spiked by a bogey-less nine-under 62 in the second round that put him in the lead of a tightly-fought championship co-organized by ADT and PGTI.
“I’m going back to Japan to play two more tournaments and might join the PGT leg at Wack Wack next month,” said Pagunsan, who preserved his flawless round with a chip-in par from 15 yards on the par-3 No. 12 after dumping his tee shot into the greenside bunker.
Petchkasem actually bested Pagunsan’s brilliant 36-hole performance with a third straight bogey-free round Friday that gained him a share of the lead. But the 28-year-old Thai succumbed early in a pressure-packed finale, stumbling with his first bogey on No. 2 and went on a roller-coaster ride the rest of the way.
After firing a 12-under aggregate at the front in the first three days, Petchkasem fumbled with a 38 and struggled to the finish, needing to birdie the 18th to salvage a 73 and a share of second with Que, who missed clinching solo runner-up with a bogey on the par-5 17th for a 72, and another Thai Nirun Sae-Ueng, who rallied with two birdies in the last four holes to shoot a 67 for 270s. Each got $8,033.
“I struggled with my iron game, either I came up short or overshot the green,” rued Que, who three-putted No. 17 and scrambled for par on the last hole to salvage a share of second.
Aussie Paul Donahoo gunned down four birdies in the first eight holes but tripped with a bogey and a double bogey against two birdies for a 68, dropping to a share of fifth at 271 with Zanieboy Gialon, who also carded a 68, Clyde Mondilla and Japanese Masaru Takahashi, who closed out with identical 70s. Each received $3,450.
Last year’s champion Tony Lascuña failed to sustain sizzling 31 start and settled for just one birdie at the back for a bogey-free 65, forcing a tie for ninth at 272 with Jay Bayron, who made a 69, and Americans Blake Snyder and Greg Moss, who carded a 68 and 72, respectively. Each pocketed $2,000.
After an opening 32, Pagunsan sat on a six-shot cushion as Que fumbled with a 37 and Petchkasem hobbled with 38. The backside proved to be a victory ride for the smooth-swinging former PGT OOM champion, who spiked his third bogey-less round with birdies on Nos. 13 and 15 and a couple of scrambling pars.
Flawless after 54 holes, Petchkasem parred the opening hole but cracked under pressure after missing the green on No. 2 and making his first bogey. He struck back with a birdie on the next but dropped another shot on No. 4 and reeled farther back with a double-bogey on the par-3 seventh after another birdie on the sixth and never recovered en route to a 73.
So did Que, who was expected to engage Pagunsan in a shootout on a course he calls home. But like Petchkasem, he bogeyed the second hole, birdied the next but dropped two shots on No. 4 on an errant approach shot.
Que did fight back with birdies on No. 9 and 12 but missed a couple of birdie chances and three-putted the 17th to fall to joint second with a 72.(pr)

Toughest cast assembled for Aboitiz Invit’l


From current Order of Merit leader Miguel Tabuena to fellow two-leg winner Angelo Que to the comebacking Frankie Miñoza and Juvic Pagunsan to the in-form Tony Lascuña to a host of other local aces and rising stars, all are accounted for in the Aboitiz Invitational firing off Wednesday, Aug. 5 at Manila Southwoods’ Legends course.
Count in the top 10 players in the Asian Development Tour OOM rankings, and no fewer than 22 ADT winners and other notable shotmakers from around the region, one gets an idea of what looms ahead when the first shot is hit and the last putt is made in the $100,000 event put up by Aboitiz Equity Ventures.
No local event in recent past has put together a deep, talent-laden international cast, guaranteeing a highly charged duel for the top $17,500 purse and world ranking points in all four days of competition co-sanctioned by the ADT and the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
“Just looking at the roster makes one feel uncomfortable. It’s such a tough cast that one has to play his very best to at least contend,” said Lascuña, listed as one of the favorites not only because of his back-to-back victories at ICTSI Apo and ICTSI Classic in recent weeks but also because of his three-shot romp over Que in last year’s edition of the annual event at Riviera’s Couples course for his first ADT win.
But the long, bunker-laden Legends layout offers a different kind of challenge for the competing field particularly its last line of defense – the greens, which are expected to be at their meanest in the final round of the blue-ribbon event co-organized by ADT and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I may be on some kind of a roll, winning the last two tournaments. But for sure, it will be anybody’s race,” said Lascuña.
It sure will.
Tabuena, for one, is coming in fresh after a hectic campaign that netted him victories at ICTSI Splendido and Rancho Palos Verdes and three runner-up finishes while three-time Asian Tour winner Que is back from a recent European Masters campaign in pursuit of a follow-up to his victories at ICTSI Manla Masters and Anvaya Cove Invitational and an eye for a breakthrough ADT win.
Minoza is also coming off a stint in Japan and has always been a sentimental favorite and contender on the local circuit this season with a series of top six finishes while Pagunsan is out to redeem himself from a mediocre joint 15th place finish in last week’s ICTSI Classic where he marked his return on local turf after a two-and-a-half campaign on the Japan PGA.
Elmer Salvador, Orlan Sumcad, Jay Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Charles Hong, Cassius Casas, Rufino Bayron, Marvin Dumandan and Mars Pucay are also in the fold, all ready to slug it out not only with the cream of the local crop but also the best from the ADT field.
That includes OOM leader Hsieh Chi-hsien of Chinese Taipei, American Casey O’Toole, Malaysian Arie Irawan, Aussie Jake Stirling, Taiwanese Chan Shih-chang, Sean Riordan of New Zealand, Japanese Masaru Takahashi, Jordan Sherbat of Australia, Davao-based American Micah Shin and Thai Itthipat Buranatanyarat.
Hsieh is tipped to contend owing to his good form this season where he nailed one victory and produced five top 10 finishes.
“My aim is to finish inside Top 10. That is the target that I set for myself in every ADT event,” said Hsieh, who finished sixth in the ADT Sherwood Hills Classic last April.
“It’s good to be leading in the OOM rankings but I won’t give myself any pressure to win or play exceptionally well. I will play with minimal expectations,” said Hsieh, 24.(pr)

Just keeping the sports community posted.