Mendoza: Joy and sorrow amid the pandemic

Al Mendoza
·2 min read

THE past year wasn’t all about wailing.

There was a bit of joy amid sorrow.

There was hope amid bawling.

There was success amid uncertainties.

Some shine seen in the fanless battlefields was good enough to ease the pandemic-caused pain that 2020 had terribly inflicted on a hapless sporting world.

In golf, we had Yuka Saso shooting not only Asian breakthroughs but global points as well that made the country proud.

Saso won some in Japan and gallantly finished in the Top 10 of eight other events in the money-rich Land of The Rising Sun. Capping her fortune-filled 2020 was a decent Top 15 windup in her debut at the US Open.

Never mind that Bianca Pagdanganan, Saso’s teammate in the US Open, missed the cut. Must have been cold feet, if not rookie jitters.

But look at this: Pagdanganan barged into the international scene as the longest hitter off the tee. Give the kid time.

Like Yuka, Bianca qualifying for the US Open is already an achievement in itself as that put her and Saso alongside the world’s elite in a sport that salutes certified stars only once in a decade.

In boxing, Eumir Felix Marcial debuted as a pro with a resounding four-round unanimous victory in America. The Olympics-bound middleweight had the luck to have the legendary Freddie Roach as his trainer, courtesy of Manny Pacquiao.

But will Marcial come back to train under his amateur-smart coaches in Manila? He’d better because Olympic boxing is the exact opposite of pro boxing—volume punches versus the pro’s calculated shots.

In basketball, Aldin Ayo was the hardest hit as he lost his coaching job at the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) for breaking health protocols. A sorry offshoot was the exodus of UST’s stars to other schools.

The Philippine Basketball Association scored the biggest gain with its successful bubble at Clark in Pampanga. It cost the league almost P65 million to stage it, but there was reason to exult: Ginebra’s 4-1 Finals’ victory over TNT was definitely a watershed in the league’s checkered history. The bubble’s become a benchmark in waylaying a plague.

Indeed, if there’s a will, there’s a way. That has always been man’s mantra of note that makes this world worth living for—virus or no virus.