(UPDATED) 2014 was an eventful year for Philippine sports. As the year ends, here's a look back at ten of the most popular sports stories. This list is all about stories, moments and events. Articles on championships and champion teams, the year's top Filipino athletes, and the Yahoo bloggers' favorite moments will be reviewed in separate articles in the coming days.
10. IPTL comes to town
Big-time tennis usually does not have a stop in the Philippines. However, because of the new and exciting International Premier Tennis League, Filipino fans got the unique chance to see tennis superstars up close in a unique and fan-friendly playing format that made the game faster and more exciting.
What made this better was that Manila had a home team called the Mavericks so the fans had a team to cheer for other while doing the same for their favorite players.
Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Maria Sharapova, and Filipino-Canadian doubles specialist Treat Huey comprised the Mavericks and local fans got to see them in action against the likes of Gael Monfils, Ana Ivanovic, Goran Ivanisevic, Serena Williams, and Tomas Berdych.
9. End of the road? Donaire knocked out
For many years, Nonito Donaire was the clear-cut number 2 in Philippine boxing after reigning WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao.
Donaire regained a world title when he defeated Simpiwe Vetyeka by technical decision for the WBA featherweight title to set-up a match against fellow champion Nicholas Walters of Jamaica.
While boxing fans expected an exciting fight, it turned out into a one-sided beatdown as Walters proved to be too powerful for Donaire. The Filipino Flash was floored in the third and sixth rounds en route to a TKO loss. He is now contemplating on going back to the super bantamweight division.
8. Asian Games debacle
Except for Daniel Caluag, no other Filipino bet among the 150-strong delegation topped an event in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. The Philippines finished a lowly 22nd overall among 45 participating nations with a 1-3-11 gold-silver-bronze medal haul.
After this debacle, the House of Representatives called an inquiry, which was attended by some of the stake-holders in Philippine sports. They found out that there was unused money that was already earmarked for the training and development of Filipino athletes.
“The result of our 2014 Asian Games campaign should be an eye-opener for our sports officials on the need to go back to the drawing board to determine what else can be done to improve our performance,” said Yeng Guiao, the Representative of the First District of Pampanga.
7. Azkals Schrock and Cagara abandon team because of Dooley
Stephan Schrock and Dennis Cagara announced on their social media accounts that they will no longer don the country’s colors in international competition unless the Azkals replace their current coach Thomas Dooley.
The Azkals coach responded by saying that the action of the two is “unacceptable, unprofessional, and selfish."
However, even without Schrock and Cagara, the Azkals were able to grab a respectable semifinals finish in the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.
6. Controversy rocks the PBA’s list of 40 greatest players
As the PBA celebrates its 40th year of existence, the league decided to add 15 more names to its list of greatest players in league history.
Legends Robert Jaworski and Freddie Webb, PBA chairman Patrick Gregorio, vice chairman Robert Non, Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, the chair of the Games and Amusements committee of the House of Representatives and media members Joaquin Henson and Barry Pascua were tasked to pick the 15 players.
The result was questioned by many as it was without Danny Seigle, Nelson Asaytono, Bong Hawkins, Olsen Racela, and Jeffrey Cariaso. Instead, the list had much younger players in Kerby Raymundo, Marc Pingris, and Jayson Castro.
5. The continued rise of volleyball
Volleyball finally crossed over as a mainstream sport when the Ateneo Lady Eagles defeated the La Salle Lady Spikers in an epic UAAP women’s volleyball finals.
Thousands of fans packed the Mall of Asia Arena for the championship series, a scene not witnessed by volleyball fans before.
This success was parlayed into the continued surge of the Shakey’s V-League and the Philippine Super Liga. If 2013 marked the initial rise of volleyball, 2014 was the year when the sport announced it is here to stay.
4. “He’s going to fight me? He’s going to fight me? Pacquiao calls out Mayweather
Immediately after beating the overmatched Chris Algieri, Manny Pacquiao said exactly who he wanted to fight next. The only name in his list was Floyd Mayweather.
In the past, Pacquiao would always say that he’s open to the fight but it is up to Bob Arum to make it happen. Now, Pacquiao directly called out the undefeated American for a mega-fight in 2015.
Mayweather responded to the challenge with silence and Instagram posts.
3. Two-sport star? Manny Pacquiao debuts as playing coach in the PBA
Manny Pacquiao loves basketball. He often played hoops after training for boxing matches. KIA, one of the two expansion teams in the PBA, capitalized on this and hired Pacquiao as playing-coach.
The Pacman doubled-down and said that he also wanted to play ala Robert Jaworski. Pacquiao was picked 11th overall in the 2014 PBA Rookie Draft and on October 19, the 36-year-old, 5-foot-6 Pacquiao debuted in the PBA as his KIA Sorento defeated the Blackwater Elite in the opening day of the 40th season of the PBA. But that was as good as it got. As of this writing, Pacquiao has appeared in two games and has not yet scored a single point. The Sorento failed to follow up their win over Blackwater and went on to lose their next 10 games to bow out of competition.
2. Practice? We talkin’ ‘bout practice? The PLDT FIBR All Stars in Manila
Filipino basketball fans were excited that some big name NBA players would once again fly to Manila. What made this more appealing was that Kawhi Leonard, Brandon Jennings, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Tyson Chandler, and Kyle Lowry will actually compete against Gilas Pilipinas.
If the fans arrived at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum excited, they left angry, agitated, and confused. Apparently, the players failed to get proper clearance from the NBA, and stiff fines and possible suspensions awaited them if they played in Manila.
The result was an embarrassing practice session, which was heavily booed by the fans. The organizers had no choice but to offer refunds for all the tickets sold.
1. The rollercoaster ride: Gilas in FIBA Worlds and the Asian Games debacle
It was the highest of highs followed by the lowest of lows. Gilas Pilipinas united basketball fans of the Philippines with their spirited run in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. The undersized Gilas squad, with the help of naturalized player Andray Blatche, fought hard against the likes of Croatia, Greece, Argentina, and Puerto Rico but fell short.
They closed out their campaign with a win over Senegal, the first FIBA Basketball World Cup win for the Philippines in 40 years. Hashtags like #LabanPilipinas, #GoGilas and #Puso exploded on social media, and all was well.
They were supposed to carry this momentum to the 2014 Incheon Asian Games but they fell flat. They lost to Iran and South Korea as the squad began to fall apart. Needing a double-digit win over Kazakhstan in their last game to qualify for the next stage, Marcus Douthit tried to score in their own basket to extend the game to an overtime period when it was apparent they could no longer get a big lead by the end of the fourth quarter.
This culminated in a seventh place finish for the Philippines in the basketball competitions, the lowest in history. Weeks later, embattled coach Chot Reyes resigned, and the SBP and PBA formed a committee to select the next Gilas coach.