THE Philippine Airlines flight from Los Angeles back to Manila carried two Filipinos who are champions in their own rights.
World super-flyweight title holder Jerwin Ancajas and winning coach Boyet Fernandez of San Beda were in the same PR 113 flight that arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 on Tuesday night following their respective stints in separate US states.
As Ancajas successfully retained his International Boxing Federation (IBF) crown against countryman Jonas Sultan in Fresno, California, Fernandez and the Red Lions were busy going through their business in a training camp in Florida as they gear up for the coming NCAA season.
Fernandez, who steered the Red Lions to a second straight NCAA title last year against Lyceum, was surprised when informed he and deputy Gyno Manuel shared the same plane with Ancajas and his small entourage, which unfortunately, were seated far away from them.
“Sayang nga hindi namin napanood,” said Fernandez, who, however, lamented the scenario of seeing two Filipino fighters go at each other for a world championship.
“Kaya lang bakit dalawang Pinoy?,”he added. “Anyway, congratulations pa rin.”
The 46-year-old coach, who also won championships in the PBA (Sta. Lucia) and D-League (NLEX and Cignal), said the Lions went ahead of them a day earlier by the end of their two week training during the team’s traditional camp abroad.
The Lions held training camp at Watsco Center at the University of Miami in Florida.
Fernandez said the Lions brought along 18 players, including three imports, which the coaching staff will trim down to 12 just before the 94th season of the country’s oldest college league kicks off next month.
“Mababawasan pa siyempre yan, lalo tatlo yung imports namin. Isa lang naman ang allowed,” he said. “And aside from their performance sa camp, we will also consider their grades for inclusion sa team. Mahalaga kasi yung education talaga.”
Fernandez still sees league MVP CJ Perez and the Lyceum Pirates as the biggest stumbling block to the school’s bid for a third straight men’s title.
The Pirates completed a sweep of the entire elimination round last year, but were swept by the Lions in the best-of-three finals.
Lyceum however, had already been preparing for the new season as early as this year when the school carrying the Zarks Burger banner, edged out NCAA rival Che’Lu Bar and Grill-San Sebastian for the D-League Aspirants Cup championship.