What to look forward to for Philippine sports in 2015 (Part 2)
Mark Escarlote on Dec 29, 2014 03:57 PM
Will the National U Bulldogs make it back-to-back? Let's all find out in 2015.
Here’s the continuation of what to watch out for in Philippine sports for 2015, including the country’s hosting of an inaugural age group volleyball tournament and another journey for the men’s national basketball team.
6. U-23 volleyball, AVC Club Volleyball Championship
How will Alyssa Valdez, Denden Lazaro, Mika Reyes, Ara Galang and the Santiago sisters Dindin and Jaja fare when playing alongside each other against the best teams in Asia?
Filipino volleyball fans will unite and rally behind the national women’s team, composed of the crème de la crème of Philippine collegiate leagues, in the inaugural Asian Volleyball Confederation Women’s U-23 Volleyball Championship slated on May 1-9 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It will serve as the qualification tournament for the FIVB U-23 World Championship in Ankara, Turkey from August 12-19.
Head-turner and power hitting American Alaina Bergsma and heady Brazilian setter Erica Adachi will return for Philippine Superliga Grand Prix defending champion Petron.
But this time the duo will spear-head the Blaze Spikers’ campaign in the Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship in Vietnam on September 12-20, the qualifying tournament for the 2016 FIVB World Club Championship.
PSL Grand Prix men’s champion Cignal will also represent the country in the Men’s Club Championship in Chinese-Taipei on August 13-21 as the qualifier for the 2016 World Club Championship.
Cignal will try to duplicate if not surpass PLDT Home TVolution Power Pinoys’ seventh place finish in the country’s first participation in the AMCVC held in Manila last April.
7. Gilas Pilipinas 3.0
Expectations will be high this year for the men’s national basketball team in different fronts.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas recently installed American Tab Baldwin as the new Gilas Pilipinas coach but the composition of the team is yet to be named.
Baldwin promised “to see Gilas Pilipinas in Rio (Olympics) and gold medals hanging on our necks in the FIBA Qualifiers.”
The 2015 FIBA Asia Championship is scheduled on September 23 to October 3 hosted by China. Gilas will try to take its first title in the tournament since 1985 and the all-important ticket for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
There will be a separate team for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship in May and for the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore.
Sinag-Pilipinas, composed of collegiate players, gave the Philippines its 16th SEAG gold medal in the 2013 edition in Myanmar.
8. Collegiate leagues
The most anticipated local sports event in the country every year where future stars are made.
Center-piece men’s basketball tournament will again be the main draw of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the University Athletic Association of the Philippines when their respective seasons open in the middle of the year.
NCAA will be on their 91st season while UAAP will be in its 78th staging, both offering another action-packed calendar.
Will the National U Bulldogs make a repeat in its men’s title or will the five-year reign of San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA come to a close?
Who will emerge as the new faces of each league and what controversy will again shroud in the NCAA and the UAAP?
These questions make 2015 collegiate season even more tempting and exciting for fans.
9. Davis Cup
Philippine tennis in 2014 proved to be a smash hit for local players and fans.
The year about to end can be considered as the most productive for the sport as it gripped the nation especially when the likes of Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, Anna Ivanovic and Serena Williams visited and showcased their superstar caliber on the court with the inaugural staging of the International Premier Tennis League last month.
Local netters hope that the success will continue on 2015 as the Philippines try to get back into Group 1 of the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania for the first time since 2011.
The country will host in a yet to be determined venue on March 6-8, the first round of Asia/Oceania Zone Group II tie against Sri Lanka. The Philippines had beaten Sri Lanka for the last eight matchup in the round.
Treat Huey, who played alongside Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Sharapova and Murray for the Manila Mavericks in the IPTL, is expected to once again lead the Pinoy netters in the Cup.
For the past four decades, the Philippine Basketball Association has been feeding the insatiable appetite of Filipino fans for hoops action.
The ongoing All-Filipino Conference of its 40th season will enter its championship round this January with San Miguel Beermen, gunning for its 20th title, eagerly awaiting the winner between Rain or Shine and Alaska Aces.
The import-laden Commissioner and Governors Cup conferences will soon follow in the coming months before the start of another season where new rookies coming from the collegiate leagues will prove their worth and become true stars.
Also in 2015, the Asia’s first professional basketball league will go on a new level with more expansion teams expected to join according to initial talks this year after the entry of Kia and Blackwater.
Of course these are just some of what Philippine sports has to offer in 2015.
Eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao will once again enter the ring next year, hopefully in a dream fight against Floyd Mayweather, as well as other Filipino boxers. Running, chess, badminton, martial arts and other sports events will abound.
And ABS-CBN Sports will be here to keep you updated.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles