It’s never easy to encapsulate a year’s worth of sports moments into a single article. It’s like making a terrific ceremonial pitch if you’re 50 Cent.
Video via G4MarchMadnessHD
But as always, there were stories that stood out from the rest of the field this 2014. Stories of triumph, defeat, resilience, and embarrassment.
From the hardwood to the pitch to the ice rink, we picked the ones that truly stuck with us throughout the year. The ones we chatted with our family over dinner or debated with our friends on Twitter. So without further pre-game rituals, here’s FHM’s 2014 Sports Year-ender.
Let’s toast to another spectacular ride in 2015 (and hopefully, more Lance Stephenson memes)!
STORIES THAT MADE US CHEER
Derek Jeter retires
It’s sad to see one of the greatest baseball players ever leave the game for good, but he deserves every cheer for his Hall of Fame career (yes, that includes his homeruns with Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba, Adriana Lima, etc.). The season was an emotional Farewell Tour for the 40-year-old Jeter and the New York Yankees, his only team in his 20 years in the MLB.
Then in a scene that’s fitted for the movies, the celebrated shortstop once again delivered in his final home game. He hit an RBI single in the 9th inning to give the Yankees a one-point victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Afterwards, he received a standing ovation that never wanted to end as he waved the diamond adieu.
Take a bow, Cap’n Crunch!
(Video via G4MarchMadnessHD)
#Heart strong for the Ateneo Lady Eagles
With the graduation of stars Fille Cainglet, Jem Ferrer, and Gretchen Ho prior to Season 76, the Lady Eagles weren’t given much of a chance. But then, led by rookie Thai coach Tai Bundit and his “Heart strong” mantra, they made a stirring run in the playoffs that is one of, if not the most memorable finish in UAAP volleyball lore. Bigyan ng Pad Thai!
They won three straight do-or-die games in the playoffs to set up a Finals date against nemesis and thrice-to-beat De La Salle Lady Archers, who swept the eliminations. Alyssa Valdez and the Lady Eagles, however, did the improbable and beat the three-time defending champions three straight times to win their first ever women’s volleyball diadem.
Nothing says UAAP champs like dancing in a noontime show (hit the 2:29 mark)
(Video via Ateneo LadyEagles)
Tennis stars in Manila
It was a breath of fresh air for a nation that inhales basketball and boxing on a daily basis. Bona fide international tennis stars like Andy Murray, Gael Monfils, Serena Williams, Ana Ivanovic, and of course, the lovely Maria Sharapova brought their talents to Manila for the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) early this month.
The tournament showed that there’s a heavy chunk of Filipinos who are passionate for tennis as well. They packed the Mall of Asia Arena, cheering for their bets. Our special visitors, on the other hand, had front-row seats to the well-known Pinoy hospitality. The successful staging of the IPTL in Manila could pave way for more prestigious international contests in the future.
We mishu, MaSha!
Kahit pawis, matamis!
(Video via Rewind Tennis HD)
The King comes home
Smarting from the self-indulgent The Decision in 2010, LeBron James announced his surprising return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in admirable fashion. He went to a trusted writer from Sports Illustrated, shared his story, and that was that. He didn’t make a circus out of it. He just really wanted to return home. Even he gets cramps.
His decision to come back to Ohio, especially his humbled tone, earned praises from majority of the basketball community. Even Miami Heat fans didn’t crucify The King and respected his move. They knew his intentions were honest. He wanted to be near his family and fans. No hidden agenda, no selfish motives. As LBJ said in his essay: “This is what makes me happy.”
May ganyan din kaya si Vitaly Potapenko kapag nag-comeback siya sa Cavs?
(Video via Cavs Nation)
Michael Martinez wows on ice
The 18-year-old from Muntinlupa skated his way to the hearts and collective awe of us Filipinos with his gallant stint at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The lone bet of the country in the quadrennial meet, Martinez made it all the way to the medal round and finished a respectable 19th place out of 30 competitors.
The teenager qualified for the Winter Olympics despite hailing from a tropical country (he’s the first skater ever in Southeast Asia to make it to the Olympics). His only practice facility was a mall’s sub-par ice skating rink (chibog sa food-court pagkatapos?). His family also spent their own money just to afford a quality coach and send him to the qualifiers. That’s dedication right there.
Obviously, the cold never bothered him anyway
(Video via GreatjayQ)
NU Bulldogs = UAAP champions
After six decades, National University (NU) reclaimed the UAAP throne. Using tenacious defense, the Bulldogs rallied from a 0-1 deficit in the finals against Far Eastern University to capture their first crown since 1954—back when Ramon Magsaysay was still our main man. NU also became the lowest seed to ever win the crown, exorcising the stigma of last year’s meltdown.
It capped off the storied revamp of the NU sports program, which has long been in the doldrums. It was as sweet as any victory could be. Many wrote the Bulldogs off this season with the exit of Ray Parks. Yet with grit, resilience, and desire, they showed they truly got it all (for you?). Who the laughingstock now?
Again, nothing says "UAAP champs" more than dancing in a noontime show
(Video via ABS-CBN Entertainment)
San Antonio Spurs = NBA champions
After a debilitating defeat in 2013, the Spurs proved that a giant loss doesn’t define a team. They stood up, dusted themselves off, and started another hike to the Promised Land. As we all know, that journey ended with them hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy, avenging their defeat to Miami in dominating fashion. It was a comeback for the books.
Even though you rooted for the Heat, you had to appreciate the way the Spurs played flawless basketball. They were the quintessential team coached by a brilliant tactician. Ball movement never looked so riveting. What Tito Timmy, Tito Tony, Tito Manu, and company showed us is that life will always have tribulations, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be surmounted.
Who said the Spurs don’t fool around?
(Video via H-E-B)
Germany wins the FIFA World Cup
Many believed Brazil would take home this year’s FIFA World Cup. With a talented crew led by the fleet-footed Neymar, plus the support of the home crowd, the Brazilians felt it was their time. Well, Germany had other plans. Team Mannschaft massacred Brazil in the semifinals, 7-1, in a game that no one could have ever predicted (7-1, really?).
In the finals, all eyes were on the legendary Lionel Messi of Argentina. But in the end, it was an unheralded player in 22-year-old Mario Gotze, who sealed the 1-nil victory for Germany with his extra-time goal. It was a fitting ending: an unlikely player winning it for an unlikely champion. Ludwig van Beethoven must’ve pumped his fist in his grave.
Ganyan din siguro kaingay kapag naka-shoot na si Manny Pacquiao
(Video via Aguero Z)
A hungrier Manny Pacquiao
April and November 2014
A sports yearend review without the People’s Champ would just be like his post-fight interview without Chavit Singson. Just when several camps thought Pacman’s electrifying days were over, he convincingly won his two fights this year. First, an annihilating payback over Timothy Bradley in April and then a total schooling of Chris Algieri last November.
The knockout punch we all wished for is still elusive, but nevertheless, it’s great to see the 36-year-old Pacquiao more focused and hungrier compared to his previous fights. He dismissed the assumptions that his speed and power were already gone. Now, the only thing we wish for is to see his mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. happen. C’mon, Mommy D, put a hex on it!
Chris Algieri’s trainer Tim Lane has a future in comedy
(Video via Muad'Dib)
Gilas in the FIBA World Cup
The story that captured the entire archipelago this year, the hard-fighting Gilas boys made all of us beaming with pride and jumping in jubilation with their valiant showing the FIBA World Cup in Spain. Heck, even the international media couldn’t help but be enamored by our undersize, unknown national squad.
In five games, Gilas showed the whole world what #PUSO is all about—no matter how worn-out it sounds. From Jimmy Alapag’s heroic exploits to Gabe Norwood’s monstrous in-your-face slam over Luis Scola to Andray Blatche’s unrelenting spirit, cheering our lungs out felt like a national duty. Even though dropping those close games was as heartbreaking as learning Solenn Heussaff got engaged, Gilas still earned the world’s respect. Laban Pilipinas!
We’re pretty sure you stood up from your seat after watching this facial
(Video via FIBA)
BONUS: This season’s PBA muses
No explanation needed.
STORIES THAT MADE US BOO
Problems in Sochi
Kung may sosi problems, meron ding Sochi Problems (clearly, we also have a problem telling jokes). But seriously, even before the Winter Olympics began in the Russian coastal town, organizers were already snowed under by complaints from various delegations and media outfits. From open manholes to defective showers to botched hotel reservations, Sochi was in not-so-cold water.
— Johnny Quinn (@JohnnyQuinnUSA) February 8, 2014Continue reading below ↓
US bobsledder Johnny Quinn had to go Incredible Hulk on his
hotel room’s bathroom door after getting locked inside
Arwind Santos is one of the best players in the PBA. His foray to music, however, was a clear flop. Out of nowhere, like coming from the weak side for a block, he released his debut single, “Bagyo”, from his maiden album of the same name. While his intentions were noble—to reach out to typhoon victims—his avenue for his generosity was a total disaster.
Leave the singing to Herbert Colanggo aka Bilibid’s Song Bird! Just focus on your basketball career and lead San Miguel to another title. Safe to say, Santos’ seemingly narcissistic musical project won’t win him any platinum awards. Spiderman could’ve used more “spider sense” on this one. Or even just plain old common sense.
Be inspired by the cinematic brilliance of the “Bagyo” music video
(Video via Melmac Sports Management)
Uruguay looked impressive in the FIFA World Cup after making it to the Round of 16 for the second straight time. Sadly, the team’s campaign will be more remembered for Luis Suarez and his, um, hunger to win. The cantankerous striker bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder in their group stage clash as if he was a piece of salami.
Apparently, it was already Suarez’ third biting incident of his career. This prompted FIFA to ban him for four months, preventing him from playing in their ensuing knockout game versus Colombia. His teeth-y tactic earned ridicule from players and fans. The 27-year-old apologized for his actions but it was too late. He already bit more than he can chew.
“Makapag-merienda nga muna”
(Video via AGComps LFC)
Additions to the PBA’s 40 Greatest Players
There are no questions about the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players. Kumbaga, ‘matic na! But as for the inclusions to the now-updated list, that’s a different ballgame. While we applaud the nods to Danny Ildefonso, Jimmy Alapag, James Yap, etc., we can’t help but shake our heads to some of the choices like Chito Loyzaga, Jayson Castro, Marc Pingris, and—gasp!—Kerby Raymundo.
Don’t get us wrong, they’re terrific players and we respect what they’ve contributed to the PBA (besides, it’s not their fault they got picked), but getting chosen over Danny Seigle, Olsen Racela, and Abe King? That’s blasphemy! That’s why we’re blaming the misguided selection committee. We demand a do-over! On live TV! With Erika Padilla in a two-piece as arbiter!