BY PETE AQUINO - July 2012


It's been almost two years since my last column and to say the least, I missed not only the action but the friendship and camaraderie as well. But as we all know, in life there are things that take priority over other personal choices. The last two years have been challenging for me because of my better half's health issues which look very promising right now and of course, we're both delighted to welcome the arrival of our first grandchild, the adorable Chrystin Laurel. Like most grandparents, we're just ecstatic and preoccupied to be members of the "Apo"stolic congregation. It's really good to be back and have the opportunity to write and share what I enjoy of doing.

PBL Notes...Congratulations to our new commish, Tony Lugtu, who took over the stewardship of our league after Dean "the Dream" Santos decided to step down. As such, Tony joins the elite roster of those who took the gavel of leadership like Rudy Lacson, Noel Baluyot, Oscar Estipona, Abet Lising and of course, Dean Santos. We wish Tony nothing but the best to steer our league to greater heights while maintaining the objectives because he is the right man for the job with the knowledge, dedication, temperament and down-to-earth personality. Not to be left behind for our kudos is our new webmaster, Dennis Tanglao. More power to you gentlemen! Let's not forget the men who work behind the scenes, regular mainstays at the scorer's table on Sundays who sacrifice a lot of their time and effort to ensure games are played. Rocky Gragasin, Roland Triplitt, Rei Tolentino and Jun Renigen deserve a lot of our gratitude for a job well done. ....This coming Sunday marks the first round of our playoffs and unlike previous seasons, all fourteen teams will be playing to be crowned champions. Parity seems to be the word as there is no clear favorite to win it all. That means we can all look forward to a very competitive playoff atmosphere that we can all enjoy. So come out, bring the whole clan and root for your favorite team and players....Whether you're a nature lover or not, you might consider joining this year's annual summer camping trip at Lake Mendocino, about an hour and a half drive from Daly City. Last year, more than a hundred people from ten family groups joined the trip and without a doubt, had wonderful memories to treasure.

NBA Roundup...When the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma Thunder four games to one to win the NBA championship, it was pure vindication for Lebron James. After playing for nine seasons, he finally tasted the thrill of victory compared to the agony of defeat they suffered at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks in last year's finals. His coming to the Heat brought a lot of hype, controversy and much disdain from a lot of fans, especially when he and the rest of the Big Three predicted not one or three but seven championships to the Miami franchise. He really matured this season, playing and character wise that paid huge dividends resulting in a victor's ring. His performance throughout the playoffs are Jordanesque in nature as he became a scorer, playmaker, rebounder and stiff defender. He is the main reason why Kevin Durant with all that offensive ability didn't score a lot points....I'm so happy too for our very own Erik Spoelstra, the first Filipino American to coach a major American sports organization. When his team was down against the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics, some basketball analysts were skeptical about his coaching ability and were looking forward to his firing. It's not easy to coach a highly caliber team like the Heat, much less to manage and massage the megasized egos of the Big Three. How he molded and convinced them to play as one championship team is a vindication too for himself and the affirmation that Pat Riley was right after all to pick him as his successor as coach. If this team remains intact and even land Ray Allen of the Celtics to join them, we'll be talking about multiple championships. Speaking of my Celtics, Manny Pacquiao and I can't help but lament the physical status of Celtic players before the playoffs began. Only the coaching genius of Doc Rivers and that Celtic pride kept them as far as the conference finals notwithstanding the age of their Big Three. When the playoffs started, I thought that San Antonio had the best chance of winning it all since they have the experience, depth and coaching. But all that was put to rest by the youth and athleticism of the Thunder. Oh, how can I be so wrong at times!
For one thing, I don't have the luxury of Paul the octopus or Citta the elephant to make those amazing predictions

SPORTS Miscellany....After losing a controversial decision to Bradley, thanks to the Three Blind Mice (not judges), Manny Pacquiao still came out the winner with his humility and gracious demeanor. We can blame the Nevada Athletic Commission too for handpicking these judges and how they can score the fight as close as they did is beyond belief. Part to blame is Manny Pacquiao himself who seems to lose his killer instinct finishing the fight to the hilt, without giving his opponent an excuse to determine the outcome like this fight. After becoming a bible ambassador, did he lose his mojo and became soft to score a convincing victory? Not too long ago after winning his eighth championship belt, a Filipino boxing analyst made his comment that Pacquiao is the greatest boxer of all time. I don't think I'll go that far to agree with him considering other boxers like Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, etc But undoubtedly, the Pacman is the greatest Filipino boxer of all time, until another one comes along and breaks his record. A few of the belts won by Pacquiao were over opponents at the twilight of their boxing careers like Oscar de la Hoya, Julio Cesar Chavez, Miguel Cotto, and Shane Mosley. How I wish that Pacman was able to face the likes of Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns or Marvin Hagler in their prime. If he fared well against those four and we'll just include Floyd Mayweather, I won't have second thoughts of calling him the greatest boxer of all time.Until then I'll leave Pacman's place with the boxing historians....I missed watching live the last major golf tournaments held in the Bay Area, with the President's Cup at Harding Park last year and two weeks ago, the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club. I was ill during the former event and I waited too long for the latter until all the tickets were sold out. At least I won't have to carry a heavier burden after Tiger
Woods played a dismal weekend again after a very promising two rounds. Tiger fans everywhere keep getting excited only to be disappointed time and again
However Tiger has plenty of years left and a lot of skill in his tank to be easily dismissed. I'm hoping that he and his fellow Stanford alum Michelle Wei can regain their championship forms and leave us smiling again...This month of July promises to be one of the best sports months of any year as we look forward to Wimbledon, the world's oldest tennis tournament; the grandest bike race of all, the Tour de France; Euro Cup, soccer's elite in continental Europe;
our national pastime, the boys of summer annual classic, major league baseball All Star game; and of course, the summer Olympiad in London. So far, I've truly enjoyed the U. S. Olympic trials in swimming and track and field besides the usual dose of golf, baseball and car racing. So sports lovers everywhere,
we'll really have a sports bonanza to look forward to and I can't wait! Until my next column gentlemen and I'll see you this Sunday.