Thursday, December 27, 2018

Allianz Conquer Challenge making a difference on two fronts

The Allianz PNB Life Insurance employees running alongside their Aeta counterparts to kick off their wave of the Allianz Conquer Challenge in Clark Global City
Allianz is making headway here in the Philippines into the world of Obstacle Course Racing, with its Allianz Conquer Challenge, of which its third leg took place earlier this month in Clark Global City.

This particular OCR event was a ten-kilometer race, with 25 different obstacles strewn all across its path. Among such obstacles runners have to deal with are spider web, monkey bars, tire wall, and a slip wall. A failure to overcome an obstacle would be forced to a carry around a 30-pound sand bag across a small running loop before completing the race.

It is the same path used by professional participants who are attempting to make the national team pool for a potential call-up for the SEA Games next year, which is the first time obstacle course racing will be part of the biennial competition.

Getting themselves closer for a national call-up are Jeffrey Regino, who topped the male open elite race at just over 50.5 minutes, and Sarah Lim Narvasa, who topped the distaff side with a time of just under 75 minutes.

Joining Regino and Narvasa to comprise the early national pool are Divino Manolito, Nathaniel Sanchez, Rocky Madorable, Gab Rosario, Crystal Umala, Glorien Merisco, Kat Santos, and Ali Zandra Chiongbian.

When asked about the Philippines' chances in OCR, Pilipinas Obstacle Course Race Federation head Al Agra says, "Expectations are high for us to produce because there will be six gold medals in obstacle race in the SEA Games next year That’s why we’re holding qualifying races early because we want to give our national pool members time to train and prepare.

Aside from the main race, the ACC held a special wave for twenty Aetas that were paired with an Allianz PNB Life employee, led by their Chief Operating Officer Alex Grenz. The indigenous participants are students from the Villa Maria Integrated School in Porac, a public school that Allianz PNB Life adopted as part of its CSR activities.

When asked about the experience of taking part in the event, Reyna Baclay was thankful for the opportunity, noting that she enjoyed the experience and took it as a lesson that she can take home. She shared that the obstacles are similar to what they go through in everyday life, noting that they "carry 50 kilos of camote or ube that we bring to the lowlands. If we sell, our families will have money to spend." The 18-year-old Grade 9 student has aspirations of entering the IT industry that she hopes to enter once she graduates. By entering the race, she says that she can dream, too, something her fellow Aetas aspire for as well by joining.

In establishing this collaborative activity with the Aetas, Allianz PNB Life Chief Marketing Officer Gae Martinez shares, "We recognize the strength of the Aetas. So, aside from educating them with the basics of personal finance through our financial literacy program, we would like to impart to them the value of committing to achieve goals that they have to set. We want to give them a fair chance of having employment opportunities in the future."

Martinez adds, "OCR is an up and coming sport. It is gaining popularity in the Philippines. Allianz as a company uses sports to connect with communities. The Aetas from Villa Maria is one of the communities that Allianz here in the Philippines has chosen to support.  This is, in line with our advocacy to promote social inclusion, one of the pillars of our company’s Corporate Citizenship Strategy."

Allianz PNB Life Marketing Director Rei Abrazaldo says, "We at Allianz have always been curious and wanting to be a significant contributor in bridging the protection gap and what better way to exemplify that is by giving the minority group like the Aetas a chance to compete and be a part."

Dovetailing this with their ongoing "Sanlahi" campaign, having indigenous communities engage in social inclusion activities like this allows them to have "the courage to move forward, the courage to overcome life’s obstacles, for them to have better life," which Martinez highlighted and then added, "As our tag line goes - we dare you to, because we’re with you."

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

NBA set for Christmas Day schedule

The NBA on Christmas!
Christmas is considered as one of the hallowed traditions in the NBA, and the games tomorrow will mark the 71st time the league has put out a slate for the occasion. This is the eleventh straight year they have scheduled five games on the calendar, putting their total of Christmas Day games at 252.

Although all five games will be broadcast nationally in the United States, the Philippines will only have three games shown on TV locally, with the much-anticipated matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors getting the free tv treatment via S+A. However, fans who have NBA League Pass would be able to watch all of these games without a fuss.

Here are some tidbits about the holiday.

  • With 395 points, Kobe Bryant is the career NBA scoring leader on Christmas, followed by Oscar Robertson's 377 points and LeBron James' 321 points. Kobe scored those points in sixteen appearances, while James is set to tack on his total in his upcoming 13th appearance, joining Dolph Schayes, Shaquille O'Neal, Earl Monroe, and Dwyane Wade as the only players with that many games in Christmas.
  • There are over 250 events linked to the NBA Cares' Season of Giving campaign linked to the ten teams playing on Christmas, all of which aim to brighten the holidays to hundreds of youth and families this year.
  • The New York Knicks have been a virtual Christmas Day staple. Their matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks to kick off the action makes it the 53rd year they are part of the slate. Along with the Los Angeles Lakers, they have most number of Christmas Day wins with 22.
  • Bernard King is the only player in NBA history to score sixty points on Christmas, pulling it off back in 1984. Two more players would score fifty on the holiday in Wilt Chamberlain (59 in 1961) and Rick Barry (50 in 1966). The high mark in this century for scoring on Christmas belongs to Tracy McGrady, who poured 46 for Orlando back in 2002, while Kevin Durant holds the record for active players with 44 back in 2010.
  • With the NBA continuing its international reach, the league has 38 players from outside the United States set to potentially play on Christmas, representing twenty countries. That is magnified by its broadcast reach internationally, as the league broadcasts through its 49 international partners to 215 countries and territories.
  • Eric Gordon turns 30 on Christmas. According to basketball-reference, Gordon is one of only seven NBA players born on this day. He and former Florida big man Chris Richard (who turns 34) are the only players from that group who were born after 1955.
  • Aside from the Knicks, the Lakers have been sort of traditionally been part of the holiday slate, with their matchup against the Warriors making it their 20th straight year they are playing on Christmas.
  • The Christmas Day slate has fourteen NBA All-Stars expected to play. The day also marks the official start of All-Star Voting, which will commence at 12mn Manila time. Since it is presented by Google, voting can be done through searching NBA All-Star vote on Google, as well as via Google Assistant. Fans can vote as well through the NBA website and the NBA app.
  • The slate tomorrow features the last five players named as the league's Most Valuable Player. James Harden and Russell Westbrook highlights the matchup between the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder, while James tangles with Durant and Stephen Curry.
  • The league is set to end long Christmas Day droughts for a couple of teams. The Bucks last played back in 1977. The Utah Jazz last played in 1997.
  • The Portland Trailblazers last played in 2010, but they are looking to improve their 14-3 record on Christmas, which is second-best in the league behind the Miami Heat's 10-2 record.
  • Ben Simmons is seeking to join an illustrious group of people that snagged a Christmas triple-double. Draymond Green joined that group last year, with Westbrook (2013) and James (2010), being the only players to do that in this century. Hall of Famers Robertson (four times in the 1960s), John Havlicek (1967) and Billy Cunningham (1970) complete the cast.
  • Westbrook can be the all-time steals leader on Christmas if he can force one against the Rockets. He is currently tied with Scottie Pippen with 24 overall.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Scott Farrell uses his past to fuel his success with Ringstar Boxing

Scott Farrell

Boxing fans seem to never tire of the age-old story of the boxer who came from a hard scrabble, dead-end background and made it to the top with nothing but true grit, determination and the sheer force of his will.  It’s a timeless and commonplace tale that keeps all followers of the sweet science continually coming back for more.

It’s not often, though, that we come across a boxing promoter with similar hard luck credentials.  But for Scott Patrick Farrell, the tough life of his youth informs and infuses everything he’s about today. And as the Ringstar founder looks towards another lineup of major promotions in 2019, those experiences will continue to influence and drive everything he does.

Farrell’s journey to building one of Asia’s largest media properties began in the early 1970’s on the grey and grim streets of Hucknall, a small, dreary mining town in the county of Nottinghamshire, England. As a kid, the future seemed as bleak as the surroundings, and your options were slim.

“You had three choices in my neighborhood,” Farrell recalled recently.  “Glue sniffing, being bullied, or fighting. I was bullied quite bad as a kid. I had ginger hair, freckles and was from an Irish family background. The 1970’s were quite tough growing up, especially on the council estates where you regularly had to fight just to get home from school. I chose after being beaten on most occasions to learn how to fight.”

Like so many boxing fans, Farrell learned to love the sweet science by watching fights at the side of his dad.

“My first memory of boxing is watching with my dad one Saturday afternoon, on a black and white TV,” Farrell said. “All you could see was the two pugilists in the ring surrounded by a cigarette smoking audience and some awful commentary. However, I was hooked and just needed to know more.

“My dad loved boxing and was quite a tough guy himself, all the big fights that we could see we would watch together. Or if there was a local fight happening around Nottingham we would go along and support.”

Farrell recalls two names that made the most impression on him as a kid; Muhammad Ali and Rocky Marciano.

“They were the first two names that stuck in my head as a kid,” Farrell said. “Reason being my dad always had his version of them and why he respected them as professional boxers and human beings. At that time I was too young to know very much about them and their careers, but I was fascinated by the stories of their fights and lives in and outside of the ring. This was another hook when I knew I wanted to be a boxer.”

But while Farrell remained fascinated with Ali and Marciano, he remembers one particular fight that pushed him to take the big leap into the ring; the 1990 war between Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn, which has become a classic in boxing lore.

“I loved that fight and the build-up. I liked them both for different reasons. I had been spending time in the boxing gyms, hitting bags, doing some work on the mitts and the occasional sparring but after that fight I just wanted to take things a step higher and compete myself.”
Farrell took several amateur fights, but quickly realized his limitations.

“I had tons of heart, and I will fight anyone you put in front of me,” he said. “But I seemed to lack certain skills other fighters seemed so natural to develop.”

Farrell would eventually end up a half a world away in Singapore and China. He started a family, got into business, had plenty of ups, and an equal amount of downs. But like anyone who learns to love boxing at an early age, the pugilism itch never left him.

Several years ago, Farrell found himself in transition and decided it was time to go all in. Asia was home to so many great fighters, he thought, but nobody has tried to tie them all together into one promotion that all of Asia, and the world, would want to watch.  And he didn’t want to start just any promotion based solely around hype. The fights had to be really good, with quality fighters engaged in strong matchups, and great story lines. Thus, Ringstar was born in October 2016.

It doesn’t take a business school degree to grasp that being a success as a boxing promoter is a one in a million shot. What made Farrell think he could succeed where so many others have failed?

“You gotta have 100% belief in yourself, and your vision,” Farrell said laughing. “The reason so many fail is they are not committed, they only see what’s in front of them at that moment in time. From the very beginning I have visualized my promotion to be valued in the billions, even before I knew what I would name it.

“I have never doubted my ability as a man to bring the great sport of boxing to every home in Asia. I will bring the great fights people want to see, good 50/50 matchmaking where the fights are important and the titles mean something again.” 

But wasn’t this the era of mixed martial arts, which has seemed to get bigger and bigger with countless promotions springing up all over the world? Farrell wasn’t blind to this trend, but, outside of one particular MMA promotion, he’s never been much of a believer that the trend will outlast a historic sport such as boxing.

“UFC, amazing branding and some even greater fights and just very smart people that saw a real opportunity and maximized it,” Farrell said. “Any other MMA promotion is a very poor second place in my opinion.”

“Boxing stands the test of time and is soaked in the blood, sweat and tears of sporting history. It has created greats such as Ali, Foreman, Tyson, Shavers, Marciano, the list goes on and on. Even after they have long finished boxing their names are shouted and the days of their glory are brought back to life through conversations or old films of their fights… heroes who didn’t know how to quit, who sacrificed everything sometimes for no reward at all, but yet inspired us all. There are so many strengths in boxing. I ask you, how many heroes of MMA have the same appeal as Ali, Foreman or Frazier? In fact, are they even called heroes or worthy of that label?”

With five successful promotions already under his belt, Farrell knows his journey to boxing greatness in Asia and the world is just beginning. But he likes what he’s seen so far.

“We are already a global broadcast and I haven’t even really started yet. Just watch out in 2019, as this is where I will make my mark.”

Where others might blink, Farrell intends to stare down the tempest that is big time boxing promoting and emerge a winner. Where some may waiver and fold, he will stay the course to see his hand raised in glory. It’s all because of his love for boxing, a sport that had become a part of his DNA since the day of his birth.

“In my life, more than once, I have lost everything,” Farrell said. “I’m not perfect and yet I try improve on who I am every day as I walk this earth. The only thing in my whole life that has never left me, or have I lost, is my love for boxing and its love for me in return.”

Current Pinoy basketball icons meet their elder counterparts

Basketball legends past and present in one photo.
Before their ill-fated results in the recently-concluded window for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, the current iteration of the Philippines senior men's basketball team met their elder counterparts for a simple gathering at the Meralco Multi-Purpose Hall, putting together some of the best to have played the hardwood for the country.

According to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio, "When Filipino basketball fans speak of Olympic honor, of Olympic prestige, indeed of Olympic tradition, we cast our eyes to the distant past. We are in the company of 10 great players who know the story of what made our basketball past great."

Representing the illustrious names of the past are these Olympians:

Rafael Hechanova (1952)
Antoino Genato (1952 and 1956)
Caloy Loyzaga (1952 and 1956), represented by his eldest son Chito
Kurt Bachmann (1960), represented by his son Dickie
Edgardo Roque (1960)
Arturo Valenzona (1964)
Jimmy Mariano (1968)
Robert Jaworski (1968)
Marte Samson (1972)
Manny Paner (1972)

Panlilio adds, "The objective today is not to measure the success of one team or one generation over the other, but to share stories and strands of commitment, patriotism, and pride,” added Panlilio. “We are on the eve of a war that may well spell whether the Philippines will advance to the next phase of the Fiba World Cup. Today’s reunion with the basketball legends reinforces our belief in the Gilas Pilipinas team to play at its best to achieve its goals, whatever the odds, whatever the cost."

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios shares, "This is a golden opportunity for these Philippine basketball legends to share their experiences and to give inspirational messages to our current Gilas Pilpinas players. Not many people get this opportunity to be with greatness and we hope it rubs off on our players."

Representing the legends, former Senator Jaworski says, "We thank the SBP for the honor of recognition and that they reached out to the past basketball players to offer words of advice to our national players."

Genato then implored, "Make the most of this opportunity I believe you will win."

As for our current group, LA Tenorio shares, "Malaking bagay na mga idol natin nag-pave ng way para sa atin."

Current head coach Yeng Guiao adds, "This is a wonderful send-off for our national team. Meron tayong kasabihan na, ‘ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinangalingan ay hindi makakarating sa pinaroroonan.’ To be in this room with all these basketball legends is a good opportunity to learn from our past to aspire for our future. We should link up with our past to link up with our present to go to our future."

The Philippines still has to wait to secure its ticket to the 2019 FIBA World Cup, which will take place in China, after a disastrous window that saw them lose both of its home games, which were held at the Mall of Asia Arena.

They wrap their Qualifying campaign with a road trip to Doha against Qatar before closing it at Almaty against Kazakhstan.

Philippine Premier League Football Commissioner Bernie Sumayao re: Davao Aguilas

This is the complete statement that Philippine Premier League Football Commissioner Bernie Sumayao with the sudden withdrawal of the Davao Aguilas from football participation in the upcoming season.

“ I have been informed about the withdrawal of the Davao Aguilas, and have received it with a heavy heart. When an important team departs the league, it is always a cause of concern. However, we have also been approached by a number of teams that have expressed strong interest in joining the PPL. We are currently evaluating the merits of each applicant. When I first approached the PFF about taking over the reins of the Philippine Football League (“PFL”), I knew about the difficult challenges that it was facing. I felt, like most football fans, that the league was at a crossroads. There was no revenue being generated, no national sponsorship, no TV media, limited attendance at the stadiums, numerous restrictions being enforced on fan activity inside the stadiums, and many more factors that would have challenged the very existence of the league. I knew there was no “quick fix”, and that the road to recovery will take some time. I also knew that in order to get back on track, we have to have a more professional and structured approach to operating the league. Most importantly, the league needs to take very good care and listen intently to the concerns of its stakeholders – the Federation, the owners of the teams, the players, and most importantly, the fans. The fans are the fuel that drives the engine. Without the fans, even the most organized league will never survive.”

“ The league will only prosper when we start to understand and implement the concepts of discipline, accountability, responsibility, and unity. These are not merely words, but are a way of life and the path to success. I have stepped in at a very difficult time. It was either witness the decline of Philippine pro football as a distant observer, or start working and do something about it. I chose to do something about it. I also believed that the league should be a concerted effort of the teams that participate in it. This is where it becomes important to have a unified stance, strength in numbers. Where politics need to give way to discipline and compassion. In order for the league to prosper, the team owners must also be able to make sense of the financial burden it has to undertake and somehow find a way to recover their investments. It must have the help and support to generate its own revenue, which will lead to financial independence. All of this will take time, but we need to start now. It all starts with a small step with all stakeholders moving in the same direction.”

“ The PPL is not a reincarnation of the UFL, PFL or any other previous leagues. It is a new, neutral, independent league whose main objective is to contribute to the development of football in the country. It is also the gateway to the AFC Champions League and the AFC Cup. We are not here for the money nor the glory. We have no political or opportunistic hidden agendas. We are here to work for the country. That is why I have always been appealing, especially to the many frustrated fans, to stay positive and never give up hope. Change is never easy. But it is a catalyst of progress. So I am appealing to all the stakeholders of football in the Philippines to support change and adapt. Let us move past all the criticisms and negativity and embrace change in the pursuit of progress and stability.”

“The PPL will soon actively engage in news dissemination, give periodic updates about its plans on the development of the league, and conduct regular communication exchanges for fans on social media. See you all at the PPL kick-off on March 2019.”

#webelieve    #nevergiveup    #truefootballfan  #supportphilippinefootball

Friday, December 14, 2018

ONE Championship seals partnership with Turner Sports for US broadcast

ONE Championship headed to TNT
In a deal to further expand its broadcast reach, ONE Championship and Turner Sports have entered into a three-year partnership. Such a partnership, assisted by Evolution Media, will allow the former to distribute its live event coverage in the United States through the latter, via B/R Live and TNT.

B/R Live, which is Turner's live sports streaming service, will serve as the primary destination for live ONE Championship coverage, starting January 19. It will also distribute shoulder programming that would complement the coverage of said live event.

TNT, on the other hand, will televise at least twelve one-hour taped re-airing of ONE Championship events yearly for the duration of the partnership.

Turner Sports President Lenny Daniels shares, "ONE Championship is one of the most popular mixed martial arts organizations in the world, with a high concentration of passionate, millennial fans that make it a perfect fit for B/R Live and TNT." He adds, "We will leverage every opportunity within our portfolio to partner with ONE Championship and help further expand its footprint in the U.S."

ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong chimes in, "We are thrilled to partner with Turner Sports, a truly iconic industry leader of premium sports content, to bring authentic, world-class martial arts action to American fans. As the Home of Martial Arts, ONE Championship has a simple formula of values, heroes, and stories that have resonated deeply across the globe. We look forward to showcasing the greatest martial artists in the world."

The move is the latest in a series of aggressive plays by ONE Championship to get headlines in the mixed martial arts space, made notable with the addition of American talent into its roster the past couple of months, namely Eddie Alvarez, Demetrious Johnson in October and Sage Northcutt in November.

2019 is set to be a huge year for ONE Championship as it is set to have 24 events scheduled.

For further updates on ONE Championship, one can check out for more details.