2016 YEARENDER

Hidilyn Diaz, boxing champs highlight sports accomplishments

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 28 2016 01:08 PM

A country hungry for international acclaim saw its prayers answered when Hidilyn Diaz, a 25-year-old weightlifter from Zamboanga City, took home a silver medal from the Rio Olympic Games.

Boxers and mixed-martial arts fighters also took center stage for their world title exploits, while the national basketball and football teams took a hit in their quest for glory.

10. Olympics

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz became the first Filipino woman to win a medal in the Olympics, taking silver in the 53-kilogram division in the Rio Olympics in August.

It was the first time that the Philippines secured a podium finish since Mansueto Velasco won silver in the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

Diaz was awarded P7.5 million by the governmentfor her efforts.

Photo by Goh Chai Hin, AFP

9. Manny Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao hugged the limelight more for what he did outside the ring than inside by securing a seat in the Senate in May. In February, he was embroiled in controversy for comments that raised the ire of the LGBT community.

In April, Pacquiao announced his retirement after beating Timothy Bradley via unanimous decision to pursue his career in politics.

In November, Pacquiao captured the world welterweight title by beating Jessie Vargas, earning the rare distinction of simultaneously holding a world boxing title and Senate seat.

Photo by L.E. Baskow, Las Vegas Sun/ Reuters

8. Boxing

Jerwin Ancajas and Marlon Tapales became the latest Filipino boxers to win world championships.

Ancajas captured the IBF super-flyweight crown by beating McJoe Arroyo of Puerto Rico in September, while Marlon Tapales won the WBO bantamweight belt by outlasting Pungluang Sor Singyu of Thailand in July.

Former light-flyweight champion Jonriel Casimero became the new IBF flyweight king by stopping Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand in May.

Photo by Damir Sagolj, Reuters

7. College Basketball

The San Beda Red Lions and the De La Salle Green Archers ruled their respective leagues to cement their claim as the top collegiate basketball teams in the country.

The Green Archers, bannered by Jeron Teng and Ben Mbala, completed one of the most dominant campaigns in recent UAAP history, going 16-1 and capping the tournament with a two-game sweep of the Ateneo Blue Eagles in December en route to their ninth championship.

The Red Lions faced a more difficult journey to win their 20th title. They went through a playoff to secure the top seed and were dragged into a do-or-die game in the Final Four, before overwhelming the Arellano Chiefs in the finals in October.

Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

6. Philippine Basketball Asoociation

An eight-year championship drought finally came to an end for Barangay Ginebra when it won the Governors' Cup in October. Import Justin Brownlee etched his name into PBA lore by hitting the game-winning triple at the buzzer that gave the franchise its ninth championship.

The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters ended a title-less run of their own in May by beating the Alaska Aces in the Commissioners' Cup finals in six games. Rain or Shine hadn't won a title since 2012.

History was made in the Philippine Cup when the San Miguel Beermen clawed their way back from a 0-3 hole to stun the Aces in Game 7 of the finals in February. The Beermen were without injured June Mar Fajardo in their first four games, but his eventual return helped San Miguel secure a second straight All-Filipino trophy.

Photo by Arvin Lim, ABS-CBN Sports

5. Philippine Men's Basketball Team

The Philippine men’s national basketball team had only one goal in mind for the year: qualify for the Olympics. Gilas didn’t get the job, though, falling in Rio qualifiers with a 0-2 record.

To compound their misery, Gilas bowed out of the lower-tier tournament FIBA Asia Challenge with a 1-4 card.

In October, Chot Reyes was appointed head coach of the team, taking over from Tab Baldwin.

Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ASB-CBN news

4. Filipino Ballers in the US

Three young Filipino basketball players tried their luck out in the US, with varying degrees of success.

Ray Parks Jr., after a season with the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League, was cut by the Westchester Knicks ahead of this year's tournament. Parks now plays in the Asean Basketball League. Kiefer Ravena made it as a developmental player for the Legends after previously trying out for the team.

Kobe Paras has been looking to make a mark in Creighton. He has yet to earn heavy minutes for the unbeaten Bluejays, but has shown his athleticism and shooting touch whenever he does get to play.

Photo: ABS-CBN Sports

3. Volleyball

The De La Salle Lady Spikers completed a three-year journey back to the top of college volleyball with a dramatic victory over the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo Lady Eagles in the UAAP Season 78 finals in April.

In the NCAA, College of Saint Benilde made history by stunning two-time MVP Grethcel Soltones and the heavily favored San Sebastian Lady Stags in the finals in January for the Lady Blazers' first championship.

Meanwhile, Pocari Sweat made a big impression in its first season in the V-League, winning the titles in the Open and Reinforced conference. In the Philippine Superliga, the Foton Tornadoes made history by winning back-to-back Grand Prix crowns.

Photo by Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

2. Philippine Men's Football Team

The Philippine men's national football team thought it would finally break through in the AFF Suzuki Cup, but the Azkals couldn't even make it past the group stage.

The Filipinos were looking for its first regional championship, but draws to Singapore and Indonesia, and a loss to Thailand ended their aspirations.

The Azkals consistently maintained the top spot in the FIFA rankings among Southeast Asian countries, but a trophy to back that standings remains elusive.

Photo by Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN News

1. Mixed Martial Arts

Eduard Folayang became the golden boy of Philippine mixed martial arts after he scored a massive upset over revered Japanese grappler Shinya Aoki to become the ONE world lightweight champion in November.

Folayang is the third Filipino ever to hold a world MMA title after Honorio Banario and Filipino-American Brandon Vera.

Vera also made a successful defense of his ONE world heavyweight title in December, busting Japan’s Hideki Sekine in the first round.

Handout Photo