40 Under 40: Meet the new breed of game changers in Cebu (Sports)

“SunStar Cebu: 40 Under 40” is a campaign by SunStar Publishing Inc. in celebration of SunStar Cebu’s 40th anniversary. The campaign identifies and recognizes 40 Cebuano individuals no older than 40 years old who have greatly influenced and contributed to their respective fields of expertise.

On the days leading up to the anniversary on Nov. 25, these individuals will be featured in separate lifestyle articles that cover each category — from Tech & Innovation all the way down to Business. A special publication release will be scheduled on Nov. 23 covering all categories and honorees.

Today, Nov. 13, meet the three candidates who have helped put Cebu on the map by excelling in their respective global sporting events: Basketball star Mac Tallo, dancesport champions Wilbert Aunzo and Pearl Marie Cañeda and professional golfer Lloyd Jefferson Go.

Mac Tallo, 28 | #1 3X3 basketball player in the Philippines

Mac Tallo and his 3x3 squad recently wowed fans and observers alike during the recently held FIBA 3x3 World Tour Cebu Masters 2022. While the Cebu team bowed out of the competition, they continued to develop their excellent play on the half court by competing in numerous international tournaments.

As accomplished as Tallo is — two-time Cesafi MVP, Cesafi champion, stints with several professional teams in the country, before leading the national 3x3 team — he believes there’s still much more ahead.

“I don’t think there ever is a secret to success. In fact, I don’t think I’ve hit that level yet because I still have dreams and goals to achieve. All I can say for now is that I’m on the right track,” said the six-foot speedy playmaker. “Put God first and everything follows,” he said.

“I want Cebuanos to know that there’s more to basketball than just 5x5. To be part of Fiba 3x3 is really a big achievement for me. It’s a sign that Cebuanos can compete in the international level.”

With the future wide open, Tallo has his sights set on one day participating in the Olympics.

Wilbert Aunzo (29) and Pearl Marie Cañeda (25) | Dancesport champions

What separates champions from the rest of the competition? They never stop finding ways to win.

“As of the moment, our goal is to improve our dancing and become even more focused. We don’t want to think too much of the future. We want to enjoy our journey as athletes,” said Wilbert Aunzo, one half of the dance champion pair.

His dance partner, Pearl Marie Cañeda, agrees with her partner’s tenacity.

“It takes a lot of discipline to not not hit the snooze button of the alarm; patience to see the improvement and development of your performance; and consistency to do what needs to be done,” she said. “We believe that for us to get the goal that we want, we need to do what we ‘need’ and not what we ‘want.’

This kind of hunger is inspiring for Cebuanos, as both come from a fantastic campaign in the 30th Southeast Asian Games where they won three golds in Latin discipline.

This winning pair is a product of Cebu’s grassroots efforts of developing internationally competitive, formidable dancesport athletes.

“We practice and train with a purpose of inspiring the kids and we share our genuine knowledge with them. We love to dance and we do everything to be better in our field: This is what we also want our next generation to learn,“ said Wilbert.

Lloyd Jefferson Go, 27 | Professional golfer

The future of Filipino golf is ready to move on to the next level, with Cebu-born and bred professional golfer Lloyd Jefferson Go — or LJ as he is fondly referred to on the green — ready to take his place at the top.

It’s only a matter of time until LJ marks his impressive run with a trophy. Currently, LJ is the fourth highest ranked Filipino in the Official World Golf rankings. In nine tournaments so far this year, LJ has finished in the Top 10 in eight of them (Top 3 in four events).

His secret to staying on the winning path?

“My secret to success is grit. Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. I believe having this characteristic is the key to success in everything that we do,” he said.

LJ is also a prime example of excelling in one’s sport without having to relocate elsewhere. Academically, he is also an inspiration to young golfers still studying — he holds a double major in Finance and Accounting.

“I hope that I have shown to Cebuanos that it is possible to play competitive professional golf at an international level while being based in Cebu. I hope that I have inspired the next generation of Cebuano golfers that it is in fact possible while staying at home here in Cebu,” he said.

“Having a reliable, talented team is also essential,” added LJ.

“Of course, I owe all of my success and achievements to God. With Him by my side, anything is possible.”

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