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Feb 16, 2013
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It’s the Year of the Water Snake. According to our scholarly and exhaustive closed-door research (aka Google), it’s the sixth Earthly Branch of the Chinese Zodiac. What does that have to do with our Sports Fearless Forecast? Absolutely nothing! But much like those zany soothsayers every Chinese New Year, we’ll channel our inner Nostradamus and make predictions for the sporting world this 2013.

Last year was a smorgasbord of filling moments—from LeBron James finally winning his first NBA title to the fantastic London Olympics to Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace. That’s why 2013 has lots of catching up to do, without using PEDs of course. One month has already passed but thankfully, there are still 11 months to go for all those cathartic snippets of victory, despair, and the inevitable athlete Twitter faux pas. At the end of the year, we’ll know if we’re indeed Nostradamus or more of Madam Auring.



1. The Miami Heat will bathe in champagne at the end of the NBA season
Come June, Biscayne Boulevard will host a second straight victory parade. Miami may not look entirely dominant at this point of the season, but make no mistake about it, when the Playoffs commence, LeBron James and company will instantly switch to Eff You Mode.

Their opponent in last season’s finals, Oklahoma City didn’t exactly shore up its lineup, while no squad in the East has ample bench support to escape the Heat in a long and grueling series. But the main factor is LBJ’s out-of-this-galaxy brilliance. He’s finally embraced IT after winning the diadem last season and it’s ludicrous for anyone to think that he’s going to relinquish the crown.


2. Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez will do Mambo No. 5
We all know Pacquiao is all systems go for this one. Marquez, however, has said that the decision to fight this year is up to his wife. Talk about wearing the pants in the relationship. But because of the gargantuan payday awaiting him thanks to his earth-shattering knockout win last December, we see El Dinamita saying si to Encuentro Numero Cinco (hopefully the last one).

Also, Pacman still has the advantage in their match-up, winning two of their four bouts. That's added motivation on Marquez's part to accept the re-re-re-rematch. Both are big-time pugilists, but at the moment, slugging it out against each other for the fifth time is the most logical move for them.


3. Nonito Donaire Jr. will be the world's top pound-for-pound boxer—with or without a tacky soul patch  
Okay, this one's a bit of a stretch. But 2012 was a Butterbean-sized year for Nonito Donaire Jr. He earned several Fighter of the Year nods after winning all of his four fights, including a devastating blow to mercurial Mexican Jorge Arce. He’s in the zone! That’s why this year, he will finally ascend to the top of Mt. Pound-for-Pound.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., Andre Ward, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Sergio Martinez can only look as The Filipino Flash will rule the Sweet Science with his ever-improving skills and ring I.Q. His first climb will come this April as he faces the fast-rising Guillermo Rigondeaux, who is said to have fists and testicles made of steel. 


4. The Los Angeles Lakers will make it to the Playoffs without Kobe Bryant having to kill his teammates
The sporting world’s favorite soap opera will have a happy ending. Well, sort of. After all the turmoil only Hollywood can manufacture, the Lakers will manage to squeeze into the Playoffs as one of the lower seeds. Kobe Bryant’s almost homicidal can’t-lose mentality will inevitably carry the squad. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will find it in their hearts to play their respective roles, and the Great Gatsby, aka Steve Nash, will continue to lick his magic hands.

The Purple and Gold have been doing well as of late, closing in on the .500 mark for the first time this entire turbulent season. After the much-needed All-Star break, expect them to gain more momentum.


5. Jayson Castro will shine like a newly shined shoe (great analogy!) in the FIBA-Asia Championship
If Jayson Castro was on a different squad, he’ll be averaging around 22-5-7 per game. But being the consummate team player, he’s perfectly fine with his somehow muted role with Talk ‘N Text. But this September, when Gilas Pilipinas embarks on another challenge in the FIBA-Asia Championship, the gung-ho guard will finally take the driver’s seat and steer his team to a strong finish.

He’s tailor-made for head coach Chot Reyes’ dribble-drive system with his blinding speed, wise decision-making, and effortless ability to penetrate to the lane. Will the Philippines land in the top three and earn a World Championship ticket? Well, that’s a different question.


NEXT: Hear this Tiger roar


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WORDS: PAOLO MARIANO
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