The final event of the Philippine Surfing Championship Tour (PSCT), The REEF Pro La Union, saw a dramatic day with big upsets and breakthroughs in the Men’s Shortboard Quarterfinal match-ups. Monalisa Point offered clean, five-to-six-foot swell to the Philippines’ best surfers after the judges decided to postpone the contest the other day due to strong crosswinds.
In an unexpected turn of events, current ranked #2 Neil Sanchez (Baler) was ousted in the PSCT title race by ranked #7 Edwardo Alciso (Siargao) in a do-or-die Quarterfinals match-up. Alciso’s aggressive performance impressed the judges as he delivered huge vertical snaps, roundhouse cutbacks, and critical floaters all throughout his heat, securing his spot in the Semifinals. Alciso succeeded by a lead of 0.1.
“I got nervous when I saw Neil’s performance. I knew I just needed to get a higher score that’s why I waited patiently for a high scoring wave, tried to perform my maneuvers well and not wipe out during my ride,” said Alciso.
Meanwhile, Neil Sanchez, who won the Lanuza and Baler leg, was on fire during the previous rounds, putting up high scoring maneuvers and combinations. But during the Quarterfinals, Sanchez came short after Alciso’s solid performance. “It was hard because when I was reading the incoming sets, I thought they will be high-scoring but the waves were closing out all the time,” said Sanchez.
Jay-R Esquivel (La Union) and John Mark Tokong (Siargao) also put up a very close fight, exchanging snaps, aerials, and floaters all throughout their heat. During the last minute, Tokong caught his final wave that scored 7.80, the exact amount he needed to win. He sent Esquivel home with a painful loss by .05 points.
“It was a close fight. I’m still shaking right now. That heat was intense,” said Tokong. “I’m glad that I was able to spot and ride that last wave. I really thought I already lost my heat but then when the judges announced my score, I was relieved. I almost cried when I heard that I am advancing to the Semifinals,” Tokong added.
Philmar Alipayo (Siargao), who’s on top of the PSCT leaderboard, got off to a slow start during his Quarterfinal heat against Carlito Nogalo (Siargao). Alipayo carefully chose his waves and took the opportunity to lock in a solid score when the sets came through.
“I kept my focus on winning the REEF Pro La Union. I know that there are a lot of good surfers in this contest. I will try to give my best to take home the title,” said Alipayo.
Sanchez’s early exit sees him out of the title race, which is now in the hands of two remaining contenders, Philmar Alipayo (Siargao) and Piso Alcala (Siargao).
If Alipayo (with 625 points) advances to the Finals, he will be crowned as the first PSCT overall Men’s Shortboard Champion. If he loses his Semifinals heat, Piso Alcala (with 550 points) needs to win the REEF Pro La Union to claim the overall championship title. If both Alipayo and Alcala lose their Seminfinal heats, still, Alipayo will be crowed as the first Philippine Champion.
Who will be declared as first Philippine Men’s Shortboard Champion? We’ll found out soon enough.
REEF Pro La Union is brought to you by the following sponsors and media partners: REEF Philippines, Philippine Sports Commission, SkyJet Air (Official Airline Partner), Solar Sports (Official TV Partner), EDGE Sport (Official Digital Media Partner), Fluidsurf, Gwapitos, Backburn, HolySkull, Aguariva, ECS Boards, Kudo Surf, San Juan Surf Resort, MAKA Philippines, Tagpuan, Harana Surf Resort, Kermit Surf Resort, Little Surf Maid, Urbiz Garden, Olas Banditos, Clean Beach Co., PTV Sports, Inquirer.net, INQPop, The Manila Bulletin, Going Places Magazine, Edge Sport, EDGE Davao and My Life on Board.