Nietes, Donaire, Tabuena share PSA Athlete of the Year award

ABS-CBN Sports on Jan 10, 2016 03:55 PM
Nietes, Donaire, Tabuena share PSA Athlete of the Year award
Boxing champions Donnie Nietes and Nonito Donaire Jr. along with Asia Tour winner Miguel Tabuena share the prestigious Philippine Sportswriters Association Athlete of the Year award.

Two battle-scarred warriors and a young, promising golfer whose exemplary exploits in the world stage gave Philippine sports something to cheer about in 2015.

Boxing champions Donnie Nietes and Nonito Donaire Jr. along with Asia Tour winner Miguel Tabuena carved out memorable victories one after the other on a year when success came few and far between for Filipino athletes.

For their triumphant campaigns, the three shares centerstage on Feb. 13 when the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) honors them with the prestigious Athlete of the Year award during its Annual Awards Night presented by MILO and San Miguel Corp. at One Esplanade in Pasay City.

It marks the first time in the last three years there will be multiple awardees for the coveted title solely bestowed by the country’s oldest media organization on deserving athletes and teams who made their mark during the year.

Donaire, lady boxer Josie Gabuco, Team Manila, and the Ateneo Blue Eagles shared the Athlete of the Year honor in 2012.

This is the fourth time Donaire (2007, 2011, 2012) will be feted by the sportswriting fraternity with the same award, while it will be the first for both Nietes and Tabuena.

“Nonito Donaire Jr., Donnie Nietes, and Miguel Tabuena again showed and proved to the world what Filipino athletes are made of as proof of their triumph and success in their respective fields last year. As the country’s sources of pride, all three are truly deserving of the Athlete of the Year honor,” said PSA president Riera Mallari of the Manila Standard.

Donaire made a successful ring comeback in 2015 as he went down in weight and fought again as a super-bantamweight.

Fighting for the first time since losing to Nicholas Walters in their world featherweight title match, the ‘Filipino Flash’ pounded out a second round technical knockout win over William Prado in March, and then did the same against Anthony Settoul four months later.

But the 33-year-old Donaire saved his best for last after surviving tough Mexican Cesar Juarez in a war of attrition to win the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-bantamweight title in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Filipino knocked down Juarez twice in the fourth round, but settled for a unanimous decision win after going through the wringer in this ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate.

Nietes meanwhile began 2015 by officially becoming the longest reigning Filipino world champion after surpassing the long standing record of seven years and three months held by the late great Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde.

But the pride of Murcia, Negros Occidental and top fighter of Cebu-based ALA boxing promotions, showed he’s out to extend his reign as WBO light flyweight title holder.

The 33-year-old Nietes successfully defended his 108-lbs belt against Gilberto Parra, Francisco Rodriguez Jr., and Juan Alejo in a smashing 12-round unanimous decision during his US debut at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.

And then, there’s Tabuena.

The young pro overcame Scott Barr of Australia by a single stroke to win his first ever Philippine Open championship.

The 22-year-old Tabuena highlighted his victory by sinking six birdies in the homestretch to conquer once anew the Luisita Gold and Country Club in Tarlac, where he just set the course record just three months prior to the Open.

Inclement weather forced organizers to reduce the tournament into a 54-hole event, but still not enough to take the luster away from Tabuena’s very first victory in the Asian Tour.

Aside from the Athlete of the Year, major awardees and citations will also be given out to athletes, entities, and organizations, which did the country proud in the year just passed.

Also to be honored are the gold medal winners during the country’s campaign in the 28thSoutheast Asian Games in Singapore.

The PSA will also hand out the President’s Award, Executive of the Year, National Sports Association of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Posthumous.

Others to be recognized include the Tony Siddayao Awards for outstanding athletes aged 17 or younger, and the MILO Outstanding Athletes for boys and girls.

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