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To the Athlete in Transition


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Being on the other side of the fence is a weird feeling. On one hand, I keenly remember the stress of living through Sundays of hotly contested collegiate-level football. On the other hand, and on most days now, the most physically taxing thing I do is commute to Makati. This is “real life” and the application of years of rigorous training have rendered me ready to fight my way through the MRT during the rush hour. The skill of kicking a ball, however, matters little else elsewhere.

Indeed, this is change. It’s subtle in some aspects and more glaringly obvious in others. Subtle in the fitness goals that have steadily become less lofty. Glaringly obvious that one time a former teammate jokingly called me “Tita” from the other side of the barricade.

As part of the alumni and at games especially, I am ever more aware that I occupy a unique demographic. Jokes aside, perhaps even before the incident with the T-word, I’d always felt a little bit out of place from the stands. Neither just a bystander or supporter, and not a parent either. I’d actually been there. I was one of those girls. Wasn’t it just yesterday?

The answer of course is that it wasn’t. I stopped playing. I graduated. As they say, real life set in.

Season 77 of the UAAP has just wrapped up and it will be another full-year before individual athletes and teams alike showcase their talents once again. To the victors, the investment has paid off and congratulations. To the challengers, keep your head up, there will be a next year. However, for a smaller number of athletes, this has been their run, either a good or bad one though it’s probably been both, and the ride is over.

Welcome to retirement

photo (c) Sunny Torres

photo (c) Sunny Torres

I won’t be the first or last person to say it but the transition will be difficult. You will miss the certainty of training in the morning. You will question what you will do with all your new-found free time. “It’ll be hard” seems like an understatement but these are my only words for it now. I find that I have less words for it knowing I can’t possibly explain with enough attention to detail all that sport has meant to me in the same way I can’t relive certain moments.

As a newly inducted member of the work force, my day-to-day experience couldn’t be farther from what they had been when I used to be a student-athlete. I have more in common with soccer moms and dads now than I did a year ago—taxes, office life, career stuff—but at the same time, I still know half the team and the fence on a beautiful day for football brings to mind the weirdness of that transition.

Way forward and back

For the most part, I know that my playing days are over. I march to a different drum and its beat of articles, deadlines, paperwork, and I am lucky to find this a purposeful path. Through this new routine, however, I am still an athlete. It is both prospective and retrospective: that jock label I used to eschew is my way forward to other things and also my way back to an old self and all the things that used to make sense. On bad days, I know I am just a good workout away from feeling ready again for the grind. This is most important in unfamiliar territory.

I can’t possibly explain what sport has meant to me, but it continues to matter now even when I am doing other things. As the oft-said Mia Hamm quote goes “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.

photo (c) Monique Resurrecction

photo (c) Monique Resurrecction

With the addition of the years and circumstance, I can no longer play for that girl but I am here writing for her. I write sports because I believe the stories at the margins deserve to be told. In this country, those are the other sports, usually played by little girls like I’d also once been. I want them to have the world. Or at least have a better one than the one I’ve grown accustomed to. I only have my words to build it with but I’ll give it what I’ve got.

A lot can be said of the sacrifice athletic endeavors entail but few can argue that being part of a team is one of its best parts. Advocacy is similar. Pinay Futbol has been active since 2011 and they’ve taken on greater responsibility within the football scene by coordinating closely with the Women’s Committee of the Philippine Football Federation. Another group, Girls Got Game, is a recently founded non-profit that organizes training camps for young girls for basketball, football, and volleyball. They’ve all been led by former players.

To the athlete in transition, you are merely looking for other parts of you you haven’t found yet. Change is hard but it offers the opportunity to become other things.

I hope more of us find our way back to sport, not just as athletes, but as advocates.

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Football

Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory

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Photo from the-AFC.com

2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Basketball

Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’

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Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup

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Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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NCAA

Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win

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Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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