After sour end to 2017, Team Lakay looks to refocus for 2018

Santino Honasan on Dec 12, 2017 01:38 PM
After sour end to 2017, Team Lakay looks to refocus for 2018
Back to the drawing board for Bagiuo-based Team Lakay as they try to bounce back in 2018. (FILE PHOTO)

After a stellar 2016, Team Lakay looked to follow that banner year up with an equally successful, or even better outing for 2017. 

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case as the Baguio-based martial arts stable ended the year on a sour note. 

With the returning April Osenio’s loss at ONE: Warriors of the World in Bangkok last Saturday, Team Lakay closes out the year on a four-fight skid inside the ONE Championship cage, which began with Danny Kingad’s submission loss to Adriano Moraes for the flyweight title, followed by former lightweight king Eduard Folayang’s shocking KO loss to Martin Nguyen, and Gina Iniong’s short-notice decision loss to Mei Yamaguchi in a women’s atomweight title eliminator bout.

Considering the magnitude of these fights - title eliminators and championship bouts - no doubt Team Lakay is still at the top tier of MMA competition in ONE Championship, but the difference this time around is that they’ll be looking to bounce back in 2018, instead of keeping the momentum alive.

“Kailangang mag-focus ng husto, tapos work pa ng skills na kailangan i-develop nila.” Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao told the media after the fights in Bangkok.

(We need to focus even more and work on the skills that still need to be developed.)

Sangiao added that he feels as though the team let up a bit in the past year, leading to a few unfavorable results.

“Tingin ko lahat ata medyo nag-relax ngayon kaya hindi maikakaila na ganun yung mga resulta,”

(I feel as though we all relaxed a bit, that’s why some of the results were like that,)

With the fight calendar done for the team, it’s back to the drawing board as they try to recreate the success of their 2016 campaign.

“Balik ulit, tapos pag-aralan yung mga kulang, siguro individual ngayon na assessment na kung ano yung dapat i-work ng bawat isa sa kanila.”

“Kailangan mag-focus ulit sa training and sa mga kailangan idevelop na skills nila.” Sangiao continued.

While it was a bitter end to the year, it wasn’t all bad for Team Lakay. If anything, there are a few positives that can be taken away from this situation.

One is that Team Lakay has been in this position before, possibly even worse.

Prior to their resurgence in 2016, losing streaks were a familiar occurrence for the stable, even going 0-5 in a ONE card in Manila back in 2015.

With that in mind, expect Team Lakay to address their shortcomings and bounce back in the coming year.

Another is that, while the team did absorb some heartbreaking losses, they were also able to pick up a number of big wins and a ton of experience.

Bantamweight Kevin Belingon was unbeaten in all his three outings in 2017, which included a pair of highlight reel stoppages against contenders Toni Tauru and Reece McLaren. To close out 2017, Belingon cemented his place as the number one contender for the bantamweight championship after decisioning Kevin Chung in Manila. In 2018, it’s likely that Belingon challenges for the ONE bantamweight world title again.

Strawweight contender Joshua Pacio remains at the top of the strawweight division. After defeating Roy Doliguez via KO in Manila, Pacio gets back on track, and a few more wins could lead him to another crack at the world title. Pacio’s high-level striking could pose a definite problem for new champ Alex Silva.

Riding a four fight winning streak, former champion Honorio Banario is also at the top of the division, and could be a win away from being named as a number one contender in the lightweight division.

Coming off their losses, former champ Folayang, Kingad, Iniong and Osenio, as well as Geje Eustaquio and Edward Kelly are no doubt hungry to get back on track and return to their winning forms.

Outside the ONE cage, Team Lakay also brought back home a world championship, with Brave CF’s Stephen Loman capturing the promotion’s inaugural bantamweight strap.

At the end of the day, Team Lakay remains stacked with contenders, and a few losses should only motivate them to get even better.

“Win or learn”, as they say.

2018 could be another big year for the Baguio-based warriors.

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