Category Archives: Sports

Pacquiao to fight in September

Philippine boxing hero Manny Pacquiao plans to fight again in September, with the bout likely to be staged outside the United States to avoid high taxes, his spokeswoman said.

Negotiations are ongoing for a rematch with Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, who knocked Pacquiao out in his last fight in December, although the opponent and the venue are yet to be finalised, Rose Tamayo told AFP.

“The fight is definitely in September. We will talk about the opponent and the place after the May 13 elections,” Tamayo said, citing comments Pacquiao made to her on Wednesday.

Pacquiao, 34, is running for re-election as a congressman in next month’s Philippine mid-term elections, and he is currently on the campaign trail.

Tamayo said Pacquiao wanted his next fight to be outside the United States, where he has traditionally fought in front of huge crowds and for enormous pay-per-view television revenues, to avoid high taxes.

“Manny wants to fight outside the United States because of the taxes… Singapore is one of the top places for consideration. There is also Macau and Dubai,” Tamayo told AFP.

Pacquiao has won an unprecedented eight world titles in different weight divisions, and was until recently regarded by many as the best pound-for-pound boxer.

But Pacquiao lost his World Boxing Organization welterweight crown in June last year in a controversial points decision to US fighter Timothy Bradley, then suffered his shock knockout defeat to Marquez.

His losses prompted calls for him to retire, but Pacquiao has consistently signalled his intention to keep on fighting.

Pacquiao’s sporting achievements lifted him and his family out of deep poverty, as he became one of the highest paid sportsmen in the world and an endorser of a myriad of products in the Philippines.

He translated his boxing success into the political ring, winning a seat in the nation’s lower house of parliament in 2010.

Pacquiao is running for re-election unopposed in the May polls, while seeking to build a power base for his family. Pacquiao’s wife and brother are also running for political posts in the May elections.

Many Philippine politicians draft in relatives to stand for other elective positions to spread their influence and strengthen their power networks.

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Bobby Parks (1962-2013): The True Gentleman of Philippine Basketball

I was supposed to visit him a few weeks back, but I allowed my work schedules to take control of my time and hence, I wasn’t able to check out the condition of the former seven-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Best Import in his battle with laryngeal cancer. Now, he’s gone and I will never be able to speak to him again. Bobby Parks, a man who will be remembered by many as one of the game’s elite players and a true gentleman of the sport, passed away today (March 30) at the San Juan de Dios Hospital. He was only 51.

Many might not have anticipated that this former Memphis State standout would make a lasting impact in the PBA when he made his debut in a San Miguel Beer uniform in 1987. “Lasting impact” is I think an understatement to what this rugged warrior has meant to the scene in the country’s national passion.

As many of you have now spent the past couple of hours now reading up on the news accounts surrounding his death and the biography of this legend, I will not get into the details of his storied career that spanned nearly three decades. Instead, I will do my best to honor him in this requiem. I will always cherish my memories of Bobby and now as he now enters the gates of Heaven and joins the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Pete Maravich and a phalanx of others in the “Dream Team” of the Great Beyond, I will take a break from my writing hiatus to celebrate the life of Bobby Parks from my personal experiences of the guy.

Interestingly enough, he was the only reason why I enjoyed watching Formula Shell in the pre-Benjie Paras era. He was explosive going to the hoop and had that silky smooth jump shot that he made look so effortless. I even compared him to Michael Jordan. When I joined the PBA broadcast team in 1997, I was still able to call a few of his games—in a relatively more perimeter-oriented state—before he finally called it quits as a PBA player in 1998. Over that eleven-year stretch, Bobby amassed over eight thousand points, three thousand rebounds and over one thousand assists. Those career totals are probably something that may never be toppled by any PBA import ever. It was later on when Bobby began suiting up in regional leagues that I got to know him personally.

I spent a whole lot of time with Bobby in 2003 when he joined the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala squad in the fledgling National Basketball Conference (then known as the National Basketball League). Me and fellow sportscaster Mark Zambrano (now one of the star reporters for GMA-7) used to hook up with the Tennessee native after the matches and had dinner with him. He had this effervescent charm about him that never wavered and loved to poke fun at himself on his exploits being an international basketball campaigner.

“I remember one time playing in China,” Bobby once confided. “The guys who wrote the roster list there forgot to put the ‘S’ on my surname and it was the name sewed on my jersey. So I was introduced as ‘Bobby Park’. One of the coaches actually thought I was Korean. It was hilarious.”

One of the best moments I shared with Bobby was when Cebu had an away game against the Pampanga team at the Bren Guiao Gym in San Fernando. I don’t really recall how it started but I challenged one of the players in former Philippine Christian University (PCU) stalwart Francis Sanz to a three-point shootout, Sanz, not really known for his range, obliged me and I ended up winning handily. Then from the dugout Bobby’s voice came booming: “Hey Noel, pick on someone with your own range! I’ll take you on!” So before a crowd of about fifteen people, I battled the legend—shot for shot, through twenty-five attempts.

I still remember the final score: Zarate-17, Parks-15.

Whether or not he allowed me to beat him is something he has now taken to his grave, but he still “owes” me a house and lot in Forbes Park for my victory as those who witnessed my feat all called it “tsamba (lucky)” or “tapon (he threw the match)”.

It was also on that day he began boasting about his son.

“Watch out for my kid,” he told me, proudly. “He’s a legit Fil-Am and I’m teaching him to be a guard. I think he’ll be better than me.” To that, I remember my eyes widening. I even thought to myself that if he can even play half as good as his father, then he’d be special.

Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. went on to capture the 2011 Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Most Valuable Player as a rookie, a rare feat. So he is indeed special, just as his father had foretold.

Bobby Sr. was always known to be extremely giving, even after his playing days were over. In 2004, the PBA Radio Team made its debut in the Raffy Japa Cup; a basketball tournament exclusive to the PBA family. In the Raffy Japa Cup, each team is allowed to acquire the services of two “imports” in the form of non-active PBA players. After successfully “signing” ex-pro and 3-point specialist Joey Guanio to our squad, I recruited Bobby and he surprisingly agreed. I had even made plans for him to stay at my house the night before the first game so he wouldn’t have to travel from his Parañaque residence in the early morning hours of a weekday to the RFM Gym in Mandaluyong City where the games were to be held. Bobby even told me, “I can sleep in your living room,” to which my parents freaked out.

The day before the opening, however, the organizing committee informed me that Parks was not allowed to play. I was not aware that former PBA imports were barred from joining, so we stuck with Guanio and ended up going winless. However, one scribe approached me during a subsequent PBA coverage and brought up my recruitment of Bobby for our Raffy Japa team and told me, “No one has ever tried what you did. You must really be close to Parks.”

Actually, Bobby told me he was never asked. He was intrigued by my query and decided to humor me. Bobby said he would have done the same for anyone else who asked—time permitting. He was that generous.

In his brief stint as the Head Coach of the San Miguel Beermen in the Asean Basketball League (ABL), Bobby approached his players with utmost respect. I never saw him scream at any of his players and when he did contest a bum call or non-call, he did it as a gentleman. I was at the Ynares Sports Complex last year when the Beermen lost to the Indonesia Warriors to claim the ABL crown on Philippine soil. Bobby was among the first to congratulate the opposition and still had enough energy to flash a smile to the appreciative crowd before retreating into the dugout with his charges. He eventually became too ill to continue coaching and today he leaves us for good.

These are a few anecdotes I recall from my short but meaningful time spent with one of the greatest in the game. I’m sure to all of those who had the opportunity to get to know Bobby, the stories would be pretty similar in theme: generosity, laughs and learnings.

He leaves behind a legacy for all those who want to be game-changers, not only in basketball but in life. He set the standard for imports. National Coach Chot Reyes has even gone on to propose that the PBA’s Best Import Awards should be named, “The Bobby Parks Award”. It is a step in the right direction to solidify the stature of a man who has meant so much to the game and to those whose lives he has touched. And once Ray Parks recovers from his injuries, he will continue the mission and standards that his esteemed father has left behind. That’s for certain.

For me, Bobby Parks is the epitome of class. He gave so much of himself that the landscape of Philippine basketball has changed forever in the wake of his passage. Off the court, he was an ambassador to how a cager should carry himself. Dignified and humble, Bobby Parks has paved the way for our future.

He will be missed. But more than that, it is my wish that he will always be remembered, Rest in peace, old friend. As Noli Eala said, “He’s home now.”

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Manny Pacquiao And Juan Manuel Marquez Will Fight In 2013, Despite What Anyone Says

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Juan Manuel Marquez will keep pretending that he is seriously contemplating not fighting Manny Pacquiao this year right up until he finally signs on the dotted line. Despite the fact that everyone knows their match-up is inevitable, regardless of how irritating it must be for all of the other boxers who are indirectly impacted by this ridiculous charade, this is the only weapon Marquez has when it comes to negotiating with Pacquiao’s team.

“A fifth fight against Pacquiao would be pointless. We already saw (who is better). The goal we had has already been achieved. There’s nothing pending, everything’s been decided and (another bout) would be the last option,” Marquez said in a session with reporters.

This week, Marquez came out and once again reiterated that he had no intention of squaring off against his Filipino counterpart. He presented Timothy Bradley (who may lose to Ruslan Provodnikov) and Brandon Rios (who may, but probably won’t, lose to Mike Alvarado) as possible alternatives. Naturally, as has been the case on numerous occasions over the past couple of months, Marquez’s comments were met with a collective gasp.

How can he pass up on such a huge pay day? Why wouldn’t he grant Pacquiao a rematch after being granted one on two separate occasions? Is this an example of ducking at its finest?

He won’t, he will and yes, but only if Marquez doesn’t ultimately agree to the bout – which he will. Despite everything that has been said thus far, the 39-year-old still has plans to meet with Arum this April. And the reason he has plans to meet with Arum this April is because he wants to know whether or not Pacquiao will give in to his financial demands.

In the fourth fight, a bout that Marquez won via sixth round knockout, he took home $17 million less than his counterpart. Obviously he wants to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself. That’s why he is playing hard to get right now.

A few weeks ago, his own trainer came out and acknowledged that Marquez will only ensure himself a massive pay day if he fights Pacquiao. Any other foe would mean less money and more risk. Why would a guy who has, at most, two to three matches left in him commit to that?

Answer: He won’t.

If Marquez truly wasn’t interested in fighting Pacquiao again, he wouldn’t meet with Arum. The fact that their meetings have and will continue to happen should tell fans everything they need to know.

Don’t buy the hype, don’t listen to the spin. Regardless of what anyone says, this fight is going down in 2013.

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Kobe Bryant says the Lakers will be ‘a huge problem’ in the playoffs

After months of disappointment, the Los Angeles Lakers are now officially one of the top eight teams in the Western Conference standings. Although they hold just a half-game lead over the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot, there’s a growing sense that the Lakers have turned things around and are becoming something akin to the juggernaut many predicted they’d be in the preseason.

The prevailing assumption is now that they’ll hold onto a playoff spot and present a unique challenge to a highly seeded team in the first round. Kobe Bryant, not surprisingly, thinks they are going to be a factor. From an interview on The Dan Patrick Show, as transcribed by Sports Radio Interviews:

Finish this statement, if we make the playoffs:

“We’re going to be a huge problem.”

While this statement is presented as a hypothetical, it’s not a big stretch to imagine that Kobe believes this to be fact rather than a mere possibility. It is not news for a legendarily great athlete to have this sort of confidence, and I don’t think it’s worth using this statement to reflect on Bryant’s level of rationality as it applies to the rest of this NBA season.

Yet his comment does give us an opportunity to address just what the Lakers have accomplished and their prospects in the postseason. At Eye on Basketball, Zach Harper provides a handy overview of their push to get back into the West’s playoff picture:

As currently constructed, the Lakers are playing really solid basketball over their past 23 games. Since their loss to drop them eight games under .500, the Lakers have the fifth best record in the NBA. They also have the 10th best net differential and are the fifth best defensive rebounding team. Their defense is still pretty middle of the road, but they’re managing to end a lot more defensive possessions than they were prior to the turnaround.

During this stretch, the Lakers are also just 5-5 against playoff teams and 1-3 against Western Conference playoff teams. They’ve taken advantage of a weaker schedule, but that’s the first step they need to take before they can think about taking on the best of the best in their conference.

Zach goes on to suggest that Pau Gasol could be the key to the Lakers performing above their seeding in the postseason, which is both sensible — he’s pretty good — and problematic — they’ve had a hard enough time getting Kobe, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash to look comfortable with each other over several months. If we take the (arguably foolish) conservative view and assume that the Lakers won’t change much over the next few weeks, it’s interesting to consider exactly what the team has done in recent games. As Zach notes, they’ve been good but not on the level of an obvious contender. By any normal definition, that’s the mark of a solid playoff team, not a looming force that can obviously outplay a top seed on the strength of its talent.

There are reasons to think that the Lakers can continually improve and get to that point before the middle of April. Still, it’s more likely that they’ll need even more time to get better — not to mention to reintegrate Gasol into their plans. No one wants to play the Spurs or Thunder in the first round, because those teams have proven their abilities over the entire season. As Yahoo!’s own Marc Spears says in this clip, it’s likely that the Lakers need to improve their seeding to make the noise they think they can. They’re still a work in progress, and that means they need all the time they can get to reach the level most of us expected them to hit months ago.

Credits to Yahoo! (–nba.html)