Seeing Eumir Marcial knock out Armenian Arman Darchinyan in the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday inspired JPS Zamboanga to no end.
Highly motivated, the Valientes — supported by Mike Venezuela of MLV Sports, James Siapon, and the Navarro family of Zamboanga — stunned Clarin, 70-68, in the opener of their best-of-three semifinals series in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas Vismin Super Cup later in the evening at the Pagadian City Gymnasium.
A day later, Zamboanga City got its knockout punch. It outlasted Clarin in overtime, 95-93, behind knights of past and present Mac Cardona and Fran Yu.
The Valientes consider Marcial not only a fellow Zamboangueño, but also a team member. The top middleweight prospect trained with them two months before flying over to the United States to conclude his Olympic preparations in Colorado Springs.
No wonder, the Valientes, led by co-owner Junnie Navarro, watched Marcial’s round of 16 knockout of Algerian Younes Nemouchi on June 29. And they celebrated his quarterfinals victory over Darchinyan, which assured him of a medal in the quadrennial Games.
According to Navarro, the Valientes and the Zamboanguenos will again throw their full support to Marcial when the pride of Brgy, Lunzuran tangles with Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine on August 5.
Pitted against the second-ranked Clarin last Sunday, the fifth-ranked Valientes played with resilience but still needed the heroics of local hero Jerrom Ferrer. In the end, they avenged the 69-95 trashing they suffered from the same opponent in their first encounter.
Now, JPS Zamboanga will await the winner of Pagadian and Roxas in the other bracket.