140 athletes received honors at the most recent PSA Awards Night — a big number representing a big year for the Philippines.
2023 was a remarkable year for Philippine sports, and the Philippine Sportswriter Association (PSA) Awards Night was a true reflection of this, as they honored 140 athletes — considered the biggest Awards Night in the media organization’s longstanding history.
The country’s top athletes gathered together in the Diamond Hotel Ballroom on January 29, 2024, dressed to the nines for a celebration fit for their achievements. Here are the top highlights from the commemorative evening.
Double the celebrations
The Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the most prestigious honors one can receive. On the PSA Awards Night, they presented this title to big names in the basketball community — Allan Caidic, Avelino ‘Samboy’ Lim, Dante Silverio, Joe Lipa, and Arturo Valenzona.
But, one of the main highlights of the evening was the awarding to the late Samboy Lim. The PBA legend’s daughter, Jamie Lim, was called up onto stage not just once, but twice throughout the evening — recognized for her own Southeast Asian Games medals, and receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her father, a representation of two generations of talented athletes.
“It’s very special because this is my second SEA Games gold medal, and that’s what he got also…It’s gonna be a great night because I have an award and he has an award as well, so matchy kami,” Jamie said in an interview.
A year fit for a basketball-loving nation
Gilas Pilipinas had a historic year. In 2023, they brought the Philippines back on top of Southeast Asia with their SEA Games gold medal, they represented the country in the FIBA World Cup, and most notably, they broke the country’s Asian Games drought, winning the first gold medal for basketball in 61 years.
To bring that much success and pride to a country whose favorite sport is basketball is something truly special, and rare to see in just one year. And this is why Gilas was presented with the President’s Award.
Heroes of the year
In a banner year for Philippine sports, it becomes all the more special to be recognized as one of the standout athletes of the year. But, many will certainly agree that these athletes deserve the recognition.
June Mar Fajardo was named Mr. Basketball; Tots Carlos was Ms. Voleyball for the year; Sarina Bolden won the Ms. Football title; and Alex Eala was awarded Ms. Tennis. The accomplishments of these athletes truly stood out, even in a year with many achievements to celebrate.
Queens of the court
Among the biggest stars of the evening were the ladies of the Creamline Cool Smashers.
The cult-favorite PVL team was honored with a Special Citation Award on the PSA Awards Night after winning their seventh league title in December last year, and they showed up at Diamond Hotel in full force — Alyssa Valdez, Michelle Gumabao, Jema Galanza, Kyle Negrito, and of course, Tots Carlos. All big stars in the Philippine sports industry, they came onto the carpet dressed to impress (most wearing pink to represent their team), and they happily soaked up the limelight.
The Philippines’ top athlete
The Athlete of the Year was none other than EJ Obiena. No one can dispute the success he’s achieved in the span of one year. But 2023 was not just a year of milestones — it was also a stepping stone for more to come from the athlete.
2023 saw the pole vaulter accomplish a SEA Games three-peat, enter the exclusive six-meter club, jump to No. 2 on the World Pole Vault Rankings, win another gold in the Asian Games, and become the first Filipino to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
This only scratches the surface of the 140 athletes who were honored in one memorable evening, and this certainly serves as a reminder that the world of Philippine sports is in a special place, thriving, growing, and reaching new heights.
Banner images from PSA on Facebook and Michelle Gumabao on Instagram.