SEPTEMBER 14, 2008
(STAR) By Abac Cordero - Manny Pacquiao fans that can’t afford to buy tickets for the Oscar dela Hoya fight will also find it difficult to get a glimpse of their idol while he trains at the Wild Card Gym.

Pacquiao, scheduled to leave tonight for Los Angeles to begin his training, said the Hollywood gym owned by Freddie Roach would be closed to the public as he trains.

“The gym will be closed,” Pacquiao wrote in his column being posted at “Only members of my team will be allowed in.”

Ticket prices are priced so high (from $250 to $1,500 on the booths) that those who really don’t have the extra money should satisfy themselves watching the fight on pay-per-view.

Pacquiao loves to entertain his fans when he trains in the US, and is just so considerate to those who had to travel just to see him in the flesh and have their pictures taken.

Sometimes, Pacquiao workouts that are supposed to be behind closed doors look like open, public workouts. Things are about to change for this big fight set on Dec. 6.

Pacquiao should begin training next week, and will have at least 10 weeks to prepare. Dela Hoya is currently training on his own as he looks for a permanent trainer.

Nacho Beristain, who trains Juan Manuel Marquez, looms as the man to take the place of Floyd Mayweather Sr.

Pacquiao has appealed to his fans to cooperate, particularly those who might carry the flu virus or some sort.

“To those who have contagious diseases please cooperate,” he said.

In the run-up for his June 28 bout with David Diaz, Pacquiao caught the flu virus in a visit to a crowded gym in San Francisco, slowing him down for a couple of days.

Team Pacquiao will make sure it doesn’t happen this time.

Civil war without hoops SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson Sunday, September 14, 2008

It was my good fortune to sit beside the PBA’s living legend Robert Jaworski during the lunch birthday party of Dr. Regie Macalintal-Canlas at the Palms Country Club in Alabang last Sunday.

For close to two hours, I “guarded” the Big J to his left. My kumpadre Reli de Leon sat to Jaworski’s right. Despite my tight guarding, Jaworski wouldn’t be trapped into even hinting if he was inclined to accept Air21’s offer to join the Express as coach or general manager or head of basketball operations or consultant or whatever in the PBA this coming season. I figured Jaworski will make an announcement only when he’s good and ready.

But it was an experience to just talk with Jaworski who’s extremely vocal about issues close to his heart.

One of the issues he raised was the exclusion of basketball as a focus or priority sport in the eyes of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). To Jaworski, the omission is a mortal sin.

Perhaps, the POC and PSC should include basketball as a focus sport with an asterisk, meaning it’s in the list but won’t get any funding from government. That should pacify Jaworski and millions of hoop diehards. Anyway, basketball can fend for itself, unlike other sports that require PSC sustenance.

“Our people love basketball,” said the Big J. “It’s our lifeblood. Without basketball, we probably would’ve been ravaged by civil war by now. It’s the one thing that keeps our people together.”

Jaworski said what ails Philippine sports today is the lack of example from the country’s leaders for athletes to build character.

“I remember during a sports summit in 1992, I was asked to be the last speaker in the forum,” related Jaworski. “In front of all our sports leaders, I spoke about the need for them to be sincere and to have integrity.”

Apparently, Jaworski’s challenge wasn’t a popular call. The reality is some leaders just look out for themselves with selfish motives instead of looking out for athletes. It’s the lack of character that makes leaders distrust each other at the expense of athletes. The perfect example is the political circus that led to the country’s suspension by FIBA not once but thrice.

“Why do we import foreign referees when we’ve got competent Filipinos to do the job?” he wondered. “Why do we resort to that? It’s okay to get players like Chip Engelland or Ricardo Brown to reinforce our national team but only for the short-term to show our players that you can be good even if you’re thin like Engelland or if you’re short like Brown. All it takes is character - hard work and dedication.”

Jaworski said the Philippines shouldn’t give up trying to be competitive in Asia once more. “Half the people in the world are in Asia so if you finish second, third or even fourth in Asian basketball, it’s something to be proud of,” he said. “In 1990, I coached our team to second place in Asia with just a few weeks of training. If we could do it then, we can do it now. But it’ll take character to get it done.”

Jaworski, 62, said after leaving the PBA, he devoted himself to his work in the Senate where he authored or co-authored at least 300 bills, including the Clean Air Act, the protection of areas like Batanes, Northern Sierra Madre mountain range, Mt. Kitanglad in Bukidnon and Kanlaon - to the consternation of illegal loggers, the preservation of marine sanctuaries, the Clean Water Act, the institutionalization of the National Hall of Fame (to kindle a sense of Filipino pride) and the creation of a Philippine Sports Authority.

The consensus was the Big J did more than enough in his first term as senator to deserve reelection but it wasn’t meant to be.

During the party, Dr. Canlas’ husband Dr. Manny serenaded the celebrant and presented a beautiful sculpture as a gift. Well-wishers who attended the party included former President Cory Aquino, Sen. Richard Gordon, former Sen. Loren Legarda, Vicencia Yuchengco and daughters Vivien and Connie, Dr. Oswald Herrera, lawyer Raffy Rodriguez and concert pianist Ingrid Sala-Santamaria.

After nearly two hours of conversing, I still couldn’t get a yes or a no from Jaworski on Air21’s offer.

* * * Mattel International sponsored a unique 10-pin bowling competition for special athletes at the Mall of Asia yesterday.

Participating special athletes combined forces with members of the national team, parents, volunteers from delegates of the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Regional Summit and executives, employees and guests of Mattel International in a unified five-man team tournament.

The unified format is promoted by the Special Olympics movement in order to enhance community awareness of the capability, courage and competitiveness of special athletes despite limitations.

Among the athletes representing Special Olympics South were Anton Silos, Roxanne Ng, Jonathan Zulueta, Mark Inductivo, Bryan Robles and Brian Galang and from Special Olympics North were Stephanie Babst, Alfred Abueg, David Ryan Ignacio, Michael Mora and Dwight Saldito.

Members of the national team who joined the event included legend Paeng Nepomuceno, Bong Coo, Paolo Valdez, Liza del Rosario, Chester King, Tyrone Ongpauco, Elaine Ongpauco, Jojo Canare, Frederick Ong, Raoul Miranda, Benshir Layoso, Vlad Tuazon, Julius Sy, Steward Chua, Krizziah Tabora, Kim Lao, Dyan Coronacion, Lovella Catalan and Rachelle Leonpo. The event was organized by the Special Athletes Bowling Association, an affiliate of the Special Olympics Philippines.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved