HEADS UP: 10 sporting events to watch out for in 2017
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 31, 2016 05:39 PM
2016 had it all, 2017 looks poised to be the same.
A new year means a new set of sporting events to either reinforce the results of last year’s competitions, or bring about challengers to oust the reigning sides.
So as we all leave 2016 behind, let’s welcome 2017 with 10 of the most exciting sporting events to watch out for this year:
1. Alyssa Valdez’s stint with 3BB Nakornnont in the Thai-Denmark Super League.
The Queen Eagle’s widespread wings have to taken her and her talents all the way to Thailand.
The former Ateneo star and undoubted face of Philippine volleyball was signed by the Thai club to strengthen their bid in their home league starting January 29.
There, Valdez will show off her vicious attacks and flashes of defense as she reunites with her former Bureau of Customs teammates Kanjana Kuthaisong and Nattanicha Jaisaen.
2. NCAA Season 92 and UAAP Season 79 volleyball
With collegiate basketball all settled and taken care of, it’s high time for the spikers to take center court.
In the NCAA women’s tournament, last season’s finalists are currently at the top of the standings. Gretchel Soltones in her final year with the San Sebastian Lady Stags have six wins in as many games while reigning champions College of Saint Benilde Lady Blazers are a close second with a 5-1 win-loss card.
The UAAP women’s tournament, which begins February 4, sees juggernauts like De La Salle and Ateneo attempt to move on after some their generational stars have graduated. But make no mistake, the Lady Spikers still have the KAFtain Kim Fajardo and Kim Dy, while the Lady Eagles still have star setter Jia Morado alongside young talent.
The playing field looks a lot more level though, as most of the teams have put in the work this off season.
The Adamson Lady Falcons, spearheaded by the high-flying Jema Galanza hired American coach Airess Padda alongside former UAAP starts Michele Gumabao, Angeli Tabaquerro, and Cherry Macatangay as assistant coaches.
The UP Lady Maroons have matured quickly since being last season’s upstarts, while the UST Golden Tigresses put in a stellar performance in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference
3. Hometown heroes Kiefer Ravena and Kobe Paras continue chasing their hoop dreams in the U.S.
Kobe Paras, in his rookie year has already shown flashes of brilliance for the No. 9 Creighton Bluejays who are a perfect 13-0 in the current US NCAA season. While former Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena is grinding it out for the NBA D-League team Texas Legends as a ‘developmental player’.
With the work their putting in, and the sacrifices they’re making overseas, it might just be a matter of time before their hoop dreams become reality.
4. The tight race for NBA MVP and the evolution of the big man
From the logjam that is the MVP race, which is a far cry from last year when Stephen Curry had the award in the bag a couple of months into the season, we have superstars who are stuffing the stat sheets like crazy i.e. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, LeBron James, Kevin Durant. The quest for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy down the stretch will be a sight to see.
The wonderful sight of the NBA big man evolving right before our eyes is another gift from the basketball gods. No longer are 5s lumbering and banging in the paint.
We have freaks of nature like Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Davis, and Kristaps Porzingis, centers who have the height to swat shots away while having the handles and court vision to run the court, and having the soft touch from the outside.
Who would have thought Marc Gasol would ever hit three-pointers at a high enough clip that he’d win games with it?
5. What’s next for Manny Pacquiao?
Manny Pacquiao will not be contained.
He won a seat at the Philippine Senate last May after announcing his retirement in April following his win over Timothy Bradley.
Less than a year of ‘retirement’, he fought, and outpointed Jessie Vargas in November.
His unpredictability is one to watch out for because at 38 years old, he says, he still feels like he’s 25.
And, most importantly, he’s still fun enough to try and pull off a stunt like this.
We’re looking at you, Manny.
6. V-League and Spikers’ Turf All-Star Games
You read that right, those fun All-Star Games are now officially on.
That hopefully means more of these:
7. 29th SEA Games
Team Philippines was right in the middle of medal table in the 2015 edition of the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, placing sixth of the 11 competing nations with 29 gold medals, 36 silvers and 66 bronzes.
The Philippine Sports Committee has made it a point to ensure “the right people and the right officials” will represent our country in the meet after setting up criteria for our country’s delegates.
The SEA Games will run from August 19 to 31 and will be covered by ABS-CBN Sports, so stay tuned for more updates as they come along.
8. ONE world heavyweight champion Brandon Vera is looking to fight more in 2017
After dominating Hideki Sekine in a three-minute bout earlier this month, Brandon “The Truth” Vera is eyeing more fights this year,
"I would like to fight again, maybe two or three times next year." Vera said post-fight.
Vera is 39 years old, and he’s been adamant about retiring by the age of 40, so expect the champ to go all-out this year.
9. UAAP Season 80 Basketball: #MAYHEM 2.0
The De La Salle Green Archers just completed one of the most dominant campaigns the UAAP has ever seen.
La Salle may have lost their talisman in Jeron Teng but don’t think for a second that #MAYHEM is no more. With Aldin Ayo providing the muscle from the sidelines, and reigning MVP Ben Mbala and the rest of the crew doing damage on the court, #MAYHEM 2.0 may just be as destructive.
10. The 2017 NBA Finals
We had to list the 2017 NBA Finals as a separate item because the gravity of what’s at stake commands it.
A lot of fans may already be looking at Round 3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors’ heavyweight bout, and for good reason: both are dominant in their own right.
Behind the two teams are about 7 All-NBA-worthy talents that have kept their teams to the top of their respective conferences so far.
But even if the storied rivalry won’t push through, the thought of another team rallying to challenge the league’s titans will be a sight to behold.
Either way, the stage is already set and the Finals is a surefire apex to an exciting sporting year ahead.