Sports5.ph photographer Winston Baltasar covered a lot of events in 2017. To commemorate the end of a busy year, he pored through his gallery and chose his favorite photos. Words and images by him.
For sports photography, the year 2017 was even more thrilling than 2016, when I started shooting officially for Sports5.
There were the Gilas games for SEABA and Olympic Qualifiers, with nary a loss. We know that the Gilas team loves playing for the Philippines but I also tried to capture the camaraderie among the players. Jutt Sulit wrote about it in “The Gilas Experience.”
The PBA conference finals were exciting as usual. JC Ansis talked about the “high expectations for San Miguel” and we devoted much attention (and camera shutter actuations) to the Beermen.
The UAAP La Salle vs. Ateneo basketball games were still the social events of the year. It was only fitting that the Green and the Blue would meet in the finals. Despite being Lasallian, I thoroughly enjoyed Atenean Yoyo Sarmenta’s many write-ups about this historic rivalry, especially “The Long and Arduous Journey of the Ateneo Blue Eagles.”
The Philippine SuperLiga volleyball tournaments had their share of joy and tears. The Petron Blaze Spikers won the All Filipino Conference against the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, but F2 exacted revenge by winning the Grand Prix against Petron in a nail-biting three-game finals series. Charmie Lising recaps in “F2 Logistics wins First PSL Grand Prix Title.”
Sports5 partnered with ESPN to give birth to ESPN5. It’s a not-so-guilty pleasure to tell people that I’m now shooting for ESPN. And that black ESPN5 t-shirt is still much coveted. My fellow photographers from other media outlets keep asking me for one.
The old vs. new; isn’t that what the New Year is about, when we say farewell to the old and usher in the new? The Batang Gilas games offered glimpses of the future for Philippine basketball. The rookies join the league and the veterans teach them a lesson or two.
I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. They are part of history now. On to 2018!
10. Joy and Sorrow
The victory of the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers over the Petron Blaze Spikers in the Philippine SuperLiga Grand Prix was a combination of highs and lows. F2 won its first Grand Prix title but the brother of MVP Maria Jose Perez (seen hugging no. 12 Shawna Lei Santos in the background) passed away a day before this shot was taken.
9. The Fast will leave the Furious
Another bittersweet moment was the PBA Governors’ Cup championship. The Ginebra Kings won over the Meralco Bolts in a grueling seven-game series. But Jayjay Helterbrand (The Fast), seen here hugging Mark Caguioa (The Furious), had played his last PBA game.
8. The Kraken Arises
June Mar Fajardo finally shows dominance in a Gilas game. Chinese Taipei came out strong in the first quarter leading by 14 points, until the Gilas second unit, anchored by Fajardo, came in. Fajardo finished with 17 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
7. A Budding Rivalry
It’s always a gritty, hard-fought match when Petron faces F2. Petron libero Bang Pineda gets some floor burn as she dives to save the ball. Petron middle blocker Mika Reyes, recently from F2 and La Salle, looks on as her former teammates react to the save. This time, Petron wins the All Filipino Conference by beating F2.
6. A Rivalry for the Ages
My Atenean wife preferred to see a photo of Isaac Go since he made some clutch shots during the series and the critical basket in Game 3 of the finals. But Thirdy Ravena, here driving to the basket evading season MVP Ben Mbala, is more deserving.
Ravena played consistently well throughout the series and led the Blue Eagles with 17 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in the deciding game. It was his assist that led to the Isaac Go triple for a five-point lead with 24.7 seconds to go.
5. A Difference of Opinion
What would sports be without complaining about the officiating? Blue Eagles Coach Tab Baldwin is often at odds with the UAAP referees. La Salle supporters complain about the complaining but Green Archer Coach Aldin Ayo does the same thing.
The Father of Modern Photojournalism, Henri-Cartier Bresson said that photography is about catching the “decisive moment.” We’re looking at a moment that is gone in a split second, perhaps never to return. The above photo may be simple but I think it is iconic and may never be replicated.
4. The Future of Philippine Basketball
At the SEABA Under-16 Juniors games, Kai Sotto towers over his peers from Batang Gilas and from Indonesia. In the photo, 6’ 10” Sotto looks like he’s standing on higher ground. What I like about him is that he can run; he’s strong and athletic despite his lanky frame.
3. Heads up, Rook!
The future may be bright for Philippine basketball, but the old guard is still alive and kicking. At the PBA Season 43 opening game, San Miguel’s Chris Ross (with the multiple MVPs) schools Phoenix rookie Jason Perkins.
2. The Powerhouse
The San Miguel Beermen won two of the three Season 42 conferences and critics weren’t happy because they didn’t get the Grand Slam?
This photo typifies the chaos that happens after the last buzzer is sounded. It’s a challenge for the photographer to get his shot, knowing it shouldn’t be like everyone else’s shot. As San Miguel Coach Leo Austria is lifted for a victory ride, I pull back instead of joining the crowd of photographers.
1. The Gilas Allure
Instead of a photo of a Gilas star streaking for a lay-up or a dunk, I decided to show injured Gilas players Raymond Almazan, Terrence Romeo, and Mac Belo showing full-hearted support for their team during the Gilas vs. Chinese Taipei match.
For PBA players, there is not much rest between the three conferences played every year. For the Gilas players, instead of letting their injuries heal, they play through the pain for God and country. For those like Almazan, Romeo, and Belo, whose injuries are too severe, they show their passion from behind the bench.
DLSU wins the UAAP women’s volleyball championship as Kim Fajardo ends her last year with the Lady Spikers.
In keeping with the old vs. the new theme, we leave you with photos of Jayson Castro and Kiefer Ravena. Let the photos speak for themselves.
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