As a new year dawns on us, we share our wish list for Philippine sports in 2019 (except for one of us who thinks his NBA team is more important). From all of us at ESPN5.com, happy new year!
Carlo Pamintuan, ESPN5.com writer
Whatever happens in his fight against Adrien Broner, my wish for 2019 is for Manny Pacquiao to fight a legitimate champion in the welterweight division. He took down a title-holder in Lucas Matthysse but no one believed he was the best 147-pounder out there.
Pacquiao is considered a world champion now because he holds a WBA belt but that's only because Keith Thurman was elevated as their "super" champion. A fight against Thurman, Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, or Terrence Crawford will be good for Pacquiao whatever the result might be.
Chuck Araneta, ESPN5.com writer
My one wish sports wish for 2019 is for Gilas Pilipinas to make headlines for the right reasons. No suspensions, shocking losses, disappointing injuries, upheaval, or bans. I hope that this year, Gilas can focus simply on the business of basketball and on winning games that will captivate the Philippines and make all of us proud once again. In doing so, I'm hoping for the team and the coaching staff, in true underdog fashion, to rally back and qualify for the World Cup.
Noel Zarate, ESPN5.com writer
The perpetual unity of Philippine volleyball. We're ranked 117th in the world with several countries that I've never even heard of before ranked above us. If the powers that be in volleyball reach some kind of accord (PSL, PVL, LVPI, PVF, etc.) and create a mutual understanding and respect--like the actual players--then countries that we used to hold mastery over, like Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, could be given a better challenge. 2019 should see all the stakeholders come together for the greater good. If basketball can do it, volleyball absolutely can.
Charlie Cuna, ESPN5.com writer
My wish is for deserving Filipino athletes to get the support and opportunities to join competitions for which they are qualified. Oftentimes, superior athletes are left out because of lack of resources and/or exposure. As a result, we aren't able to see the best of the best rise up year after year. There has to be a way for sports officials and associations to tap the top athletes in every sport, in every age bracket, to ensure top level competition without the usual politics.
Jutt Sulit, ESPN5.com writer
My 2019 sports wish is for Gilas Pilipinas to qualify for the FIBA World Cup. It has been a very challenging and controversial road to the Worlds. There was the brawl. There were unexpected losses. There was drama scattered all around. Somehow, the game and the team that had united us Filipino basketball fans had divided us as well. But all of those would be wiped away if we eventually qualify for the World Cup. There is nothing I want more in 2019 than to see Gilas Pilipinas on the world stage again.
JC Ansis, ESPN5.com assistant managing editor
I wish the Lakers make the NBA Finals. I know, it's a stretch, but that's what wishes are for. The last time the Lakers played for the championship Angry Birds was on everyone's phone, vuvuzelas were annoying (they still are), Dwight Howard was someone's idol, and Ray Allen and KG were still on each other's speed dial. Make it happen!
Charmie Lising, ESPN5.com writer
The mainstreaming of women's sports. Filipina athletes were the biggest stars of Philippine sports in 2018. From dominating the country's medal haul in the Asian Games to conquering the world's highest summits, Pinays have proven their strength and indomitable spirit despite getting less coverage, representation, access, and support than they deserve. Hopefully, this could drive stakeholders to have a more holistic approach to promoting gender equality and women empowerment through sports. With the Philippines hosting the SEA Games next year, there are a lot of opportunities for more Filipinas to shine and break stereotypes, for media to expand its coverage of women's sporting events, and for fans to show support for both male and female athletes.
Yoyo Sarmenta, ESPN5.com writer
Let Kai Sotto be Kai Sotto. This past year, 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto cemented himself as the Philippines' next big thing. His eye-catching Batang Gilas campaigns and his inclusion into the Seniors Gilas team made him the talk of the town that there has already been debate on whether he should try his luck abroad or stay in the country. There is no doubt that he is the future of Philippine basketball. It's also no wonder that FIBA recently heralded the 16-year-old as the top under-18 prospect in Asia. That being said, there are endless debates and fiery opinions about how the kid should take a back seat in 2019. It's not enough that there is pressure from being a basketball player, but he also has to put the country's hoop hopes on his young shoulders. Trust in him that he'll do what's best for himself, his family, and his career in the long run. This coming year should still hold great things for the wunderkind, including a possible UAAP Juniors MVP award and another competitive run with Batang Gilas.
Jan Ballesteros, ESPN5.com writer
I have two wishes. First, that San Miguel Beer wins a Grand Slam. It's the final piece that will cement this batch of Beermen's legacy as one of the best teams ever assembled in the PBA. If they do, June Mar Fajardo, poised to win a fifth straight MVP, no longer needs to prove anything. He could focus on the national team. Maybe he could train in the U.S. and return home only when the flag needs him.
Second, Dylan Ababou does a D-Rose. Little do people know, Ababou is a former UAAP MVP. He was starting to make a name for himself with Ginebra early in his career before suffering an ACL injury twice. The Columbian Dyip forward has bounced off from one team to another, trying to rediscover his old flare. But it's really hard to do that after a couple of surgeries on his knee. Maybe he could learn a thing or two from Rose, whose career went downhill after hurting his knee. He reinvented his game and now he's making a case for the Sixth Man of the Year award.
Richard Dy, ESPN5.com writer
I wish to see Gilas Pilipinas overcome the obstacles en route to making the FIBA World Cup in 2019 in China. From there, I wish to see the PH team surpass its one-win output from 2014 in Seville, Spain and make giant strides.
Sid Ventura, ESPN5.com managing editor
A successful hosting of the Southeast Asian Games by the Philippines. When we last hosted, in 2005, we ran away with the overall championship after winning 115 gold medals. While a repeat of that would be nice, my major wish is for us to pull this off without any major hitches or accusations of hometown decisions. Let these be the best-officiated and best-organized SEA Games ever. I am also truly excited to see what the new sports complex in Clark will look like, because let's face it, it would have been embarrassing if we were still to use the ancient Rizal Memorial Sports Complex as the main hub.