ArchivesOctober 2010The UniGames: A mix of everything

The UniGames: A mix of everything

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The University Games (UniGames) started in 1996 in Bacolod with a single event — volleyball. Afterall, founder Roger Banzuela used to be president of the Philippine Amateur Volleyball Association. The UniGames eventually grew in terms of events, schools, and number of participants. {{more}}

This year’s staging, backed by the Philippine Sports Commission and hosted by Silliman University and the provincial government of Negros Oriental and the City of Dumaguete, attracted close to 3,000 athletes from 47 schools from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, who competed in 13 regular events plus a “demo sport” in archery.

The way it has been turning out, the UniGames has become a mix of everything aside from being an athletic meet: a reunion of former national athletes and coaches, same for former teammates, and perhaps a real semestral break for athletes who compete with the same dedication that they show in their regular leagues back home.

Fact is for Metro Manila schools, no more Team Bs have been fielded these past years. The credibility and popularity of the UniGames has improved so much that the schools have been sending their teams that usually compete in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCA) or in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), providing a much-anticipated playing opportunity for provincial teams.

The story goes that there was one provincial school which beat Team B of De La Salle-Taft in basketball. But so what if it was only Team B? The winning school had a giant streamer made, proclaiming to the world that it beat La Salle, for a year; the streamer was hanging there for the next year, and when a typhoon ripped it apart, the school even replaced it.

The UniGames has also become a showcase of pitting Metro Manila schools against those scattered throughout the rest of the Philippines. In the 2009 UniGames edition held in Iloilo City, Metro Manila schools dominated the league, winning 20 of the 24 events; Visayas took three titles, including football, the big sport in this part of the world; and La Salle Dasmarinas went home with one.

This year, the fact that the UniGames happened in the heels of the annual Buglasan Festival of Festivals in the province of Negros Oriental added to the spectacle and rich experience for the visiting athletes and guests.

“The UniGames gives me a chance to provide a playing opportunity for my bench players to prepare them for future competitions,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black, who has been bringing his Blue Eagles regularly to the UniGames. Black, who’s going for his third straight UniGames championship in basketball, also denied he personally goes to the UniGames to scout for and recruit players.

Other basketball personalities who flew in to Dumaguete were coach Junel Baculi for National University, Falcons coach Leo Austria for Adamson University, coach Bert Flores for Far Eastern University, PBA’s Eric Altamirano who came to watch his son play for Ateneo, and former PBA Shell trainer Hercules Callanta for Lyceum of the Philippines University, who also gave a talk during the UniGames Sports Science Seminar held two days before the formal opening of the Games. Car racer Vip Isada was also in Dumaguete with the UP Diliman volleyball teams.

Indeed, the UniGames has become a mix of everything and of everyone. (Lito Cinco)

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