Recently, the sporting world lost two icons and I have mourned their departure since word got out.

Severiano "Seve" Ballesteros was known as a charismatic competitor who helped make Europe (and his home nation of Spain in particular) a hotbed for golfing talent.

First, Spanish golfing legend Severiano “Seve” Ballesteros passed away at the age of 54 after a three-year battle with cancer. Known as “The Conquistador” or “El Matador”, Seve was known for his highly expressive demeanor on the course as well as his erratic driving off the tee and very impressive ability to recover from bad situations. In addition to winning many times on the European PGA Tour, he has also won The Open Championship thrice and The Masters twice in his career. But he stands out most of all for making the Ryder Cup, a biennial team event originally featuring the best American golfers against the top British golfers, more competitive with the inclusion of players from continental Europe. Despite suffering back problems in his later years which diminished his appearances, he continued to stay involved by designing golf courses, sponsoring tournaments and even serving as captain for the victorious 1997 European Ryder Cup team when the event was held at the Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande, Spain.

More recently, professional wrestler Randall Mario Poffo a.k.a. “Macho Man” Randy Savage died in a car accident after suffering a heart attack while driving. Known as one of the most colorful and charismatic in-ring performers, he helped build a loyal and rapidly growing following for professional wrestling from the mid-80s on. To this day, his Wrestlemania III match with Ricky “The Deagon” Steamboat for the WWE (then WWF) Intercontinental Championship has been hailed by many as perhaps the single greatest match in the sport’s history. He would go on to win the WWE Heavyweight Championship twice, feud with some of the sport’s brightest stars and even end up as a color commentator for the company before his eventual departure. He would continue to gain accolades in WCW and even have a brief run in TNA before finally retiring for good.

Randall Angelo Poffo, better known as "Macho Man" Randy Savage, set the standards for many of today's modern performers with his outlandish costumes, unique gimmicks, mic skills and athleticism.

Tributes have poured in from their colleagues, fans and observers who have noted the impact they have left in their respective disciplines. And while golf or professional wrestling have lost much with their passing, their legacies live on greatly enriching the sports that they have made their trade in. Rest in peace, idols.

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What do current La Liga and UEFA champions FC Barcelona and the Philippine national football team have in common?

The answer: Paulino Alcantara.

In light of the 21st league crown and 4th UEFA championship copped recently by the Catalans of the Nou Camp, the club’s glorious history has come under greater attention and a record that has stood for almost a century remains unbroken to this very day.

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. A Filipino footie holds the all-time club record for career goals with 357 goals in as many matches during a productive 15-year career.

And it doesn’t end there. The same man holds the record for being the youngest man ever to start and play in a senior match, debuting at the tender age of 15.

And yet, the man’s achievements have gone largely unnoticed in a country obsessed with hoop dreams despite having athletes of other disciplines proudly carrying the flag.

But with the recent hoopla over football in this region (and country in particular), Paulino Alcantara might just gain the recognition he so richly deserves in the country of his birth and upbringing.

All the more I say that football is the sport that will next define our success on the world stage. If a Filipino could become one of the cornerstones of a world-famous football club, the next Paulino Alcantara may be lying in wait somewhere on these islands.

Somehow, I’ll never get tired of telling those naysayers “I told you so” and score a goal in their stunned faces.

For more information on Paulino Alcantara, you may check out the original blog by clicking here or visit his profile page on the official FC Barcelona site by clicking here.

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Wishing the noise of his scandalous affairs would quiet down, former World No. 1 golfer Tiger Woods realizes he has gone from being the hunter to being hunted.

More than a year and a half after the marital scandal that ruined his marriage and much of his career, Tiger Woods remains relegated to the rebuilding phase of his life.

In the aftermath of one of the nastiest cases of marital infidelity by a globally recognized sports icon, the former World No. 1 has seen his ranking slide with a dearth of poor showings and runner-up finishes in the past year and a half. Several key sponsors such as Accenture and Gatorade have pulled out of their sponsorship deals, costing one of the world’s top paid athletes much of his income. And to boot, he has become the butt of jokes left and right not just by stand-up comedians and late-night talk-show hosts, but even the average person who once watched him rack up win after win in dominating fashion.

So it begs the question of whether behind every successful man is indeed a woman. Good point, but there’s more.

I say, it is a case of Tiger Woods reeling from a loss of control in his life, a man whose wanderings in life led him well astray from his formula of success and caused him to slip up in multiple aspects of the world he knew.

While it is natural for any man to lose their way in life, the lack of direction he had after ascending to the top may have become the Achilles heel that finally broke his streak of dominance.

One close friend of Woods blamed his relationship with his fellow athlete Michael Jordan (yes, basketball’s answer to Tiger) as the reason for his many affairs contributing to his marital infidelity. Not surprising, considering he and his ex-wife Juanita parted ways over his own philandering years ago, leading to one of the largest divorce settlements in North American history.

Friends and relatives have commented on his aloofness and lack of contact in the past few years, saying that his meteoric rise to the top may have changed him greatly from the warm and caring person he once was known to be.

It appears that Tiger’s past and present have finally caught up with him. And while he tries to get back on track to beating Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 career major titles, he will have much to carry on his shoulders not just from the people close to him but the millions who used to (and some who still do, including myself) look up to him as an inspiration in life. Looks like Jesse James and Arnold Schwarzenegger have a new member in their circle of fallen celebrities who chose to play beyond the bell and lost.

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Who would have guessed that this photo would predict this year's NBA finalists?

The Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat will square off in the NBA Finals five years after their last meet in the same finals. The biggest drama of this encounter will be who gets their first championship ring around their finger, with both squads having much changed lineups since the boys from Florida got the better of the exchange in their first encounter.

For Dallas, two of its greatest stars will be looking to give the Texas franchise its first NBA title. For sweet-shooting forward Dirk Nowitzki and stellar point guard Jason Kidd, this will also be a chance to redeem themselves after falling short at their debut in the big dance. The German scoring machine still carries a burden from their failed run against the Heat back in 2006, while Kidd bears his own scars from their tiff with the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2002 as a member of the New Jersey Nets. And while former player and coach Avery Johnson missed his chance five years before, current coach Rik Carlisle has chance to do one better if he can lead the team to a victory in the seven-game series.

Crossing over to Miami, the same story rings true for high-octane forward Lebron James, whose then-team the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up losing to the San Antonio Spurs in a sweep in their 2007 encounter. Former Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh, whose previous team never advances past the Eastern Conference semifinals, is also hungry for a title and is making his NBA Finals debut. Star guard Dwayne Wade won the title with Shaquille O’Neal and then-coach Pat Riley five years ago, so he is in the mood to add some more new hardware. But with Fil-Am coach Erik Spoelstra serving as assistant in their win five years ago, their now head coach will have much to prove as the hand-picked successor to a proven championship winning mastermind from the bench.

In light of the upsets that rocked this year’s playoffs, the results of the upcoming NBA Finals promise to deliver something interesting. And considering my relative disinterest in the NBA for the past several years, this may be a chance for me to rekindle my love affair with the sport of basketball.

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Although “Sugar” Shane Mosley was not knocked out in his bout with world welterweight champion Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao earlier this month, he was still taken to school in nearly all rounds and later admitted he was overwhelmed by the speed of boxing’s reigning pound-for-pound king. Pac-Man certainly has proven his worthiness of the title, and Mexican pugilist Juan Manuel Marquez is next in the champion’s crosshairs, having suffered defeat at his opponent’s fists twice before.

Will third time be the charm for Marquez, or is Pacquiao posed for a trifecta of wins at his rival’s expense? Only time will tell. But Fish Lips (or Gayweather) remains as elusive as ever.

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