MANILA BOXING great Manny Pacquiao serves as the special guest of honor and speaker when the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) pays tribute to the best and brightest Filipino athletes in the year about to end during its Annual Awards Night set Jan. 25, 2014.
The presence of the 35-year-old eight-time world champion and congressman from the province of Sarangani is expected to lend prestige to the formal affair whose highlight is the presentation of the coveted Athlete of the Year award.
This marks the second time Pacquiao will be the guest of honor and speaker of the yearly event, having done the same thing during the 2011 awards night.
But the opportunity to once again address the local sports community comes at a time when Pacquiao had just won a second term in Congress and is just two months removed from a successful ring comeback that saw him pummelled American Brandon Rios for 12 full rounds in a lopsided welterweight match at the Cotai Arena in Macau.
The ring icon was elevated to the PSA Hall of Fame in 2009 after having named Athlete of the Year five times in between 2002 to 2008.
The same group whose members are sportswriters and editors from the national dailies and tabloids, also named Pacquiao its Athlete of the Decade in 2010.
The future Hall of Famer is also expected to personally hand out the highest honor given by the PSA in partnership with Smart Sports, MILO, Philippine Sports Commission, Air21, Globalport, Philippine Basketball Association, Accel, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, and Rain or Shine.
Fiba-World Cup-bound Gilas Pilipinas basketball team and world pool champions Rubilen Amit, Dennis Orcollo, and Lee Van Corteza are the leading candidates for the Athlete of the Year award.
The national cage team brought immense joy to this basketball-crazy country one night in August following its unexpected runner-up finish behind unbeaten champion Iran in the Fiba-Asia Mens Championship.
More than the silver medal it won, Gilas Pilipinas also assured the return of the country in the world basketball map as it also clinched a berth in next years Fiba-World Cup in Spain after a 35-year absence.
Amit,Orcollo, and Corteza meanwhile proved once more that the best pool players are still found in this side of the world.
The 4-foot-11 Amit won a second World Womens 10-Ball title after beating former champion Kelly Fisher of Great Britain in the final.
The pair of Orcollo and Corteza for their part, crowned themselves World Cup of Pool champions following their victory over the Netherlands duo of Nick Van Den Berg and Niels Feijen during the championship game.
Other than the Athlete of the Year, other awards to be given by the PSA include Executive of the Year, Presidential Achievement, Lifetime Achievement, NSA of the Year, and MILO Junior Athlete.
There will also be major awardees, citations, posthumous, and the Tony Siddayao award for deserving young athletes. (PNA)