Hometown boy Neil Sanchez wins Oakley Pro Baler

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Baler’s very own top surfer, 19-year-old Neil Sanchez, claimed the PHP 100,000 prize purse of the Oakley Pro Baler after an astonishing victory against one of Siargao’s top surfers, Piso Alcala, in a 30-minute beach break duel on Tuesday in front of Aliya Surf Resort in Aurora.

After winning the PSCT-Lanuza leg, Sanchez kept himself in shape by practicing his maneuvers all throughout the week, just like a warrior preparing to defend his homebreak. Sanchez scored a 9.25 during the early minutes of the finals and maintained his dominance in most parts of the heat. Alcala struggled to get his needed combination score to take the lead as Sanchez was on fire.

“I’m really thankful that my homebreak gave me the waves I needed to win this leg. I really can’t explain how I’m feeling right now. Thank you to my sponsors for supporting me and to God for giving me the strength. I’m so happy!” said Sanchez.

With little experience competing in the international surfing stage, Sanchez, ranked second in the PSCT leaderboard, said he was honored to face a seasoned surf athlete like Piso Alcala who, on the other hand, had countless victories in the Philippines and overseas.

Alcala won the national and international surfing cups in Siargao way back in 2014. He was also the only Filipino who reached the Quarterfinals in this year’s World Surf League Qualifying Series (WSL QS) 3000 held in Siargao.

Nilbie Blancada from Siargao dominated the Women’s Division defeating La Union’s top female surfer Daisy Valdez and fellow Siargaonons Ana Mae Alipayo and Jolina Uriarte.

“We’re glad that the waves are better now compared to yesterday. I was just trying to enjoy surfing with my friends, it was like a normal surf session for us out there,” said Blancada.

During the awarding ceremony, Vice-Governor Rommel T. Angara congratulated Sanchez and all the surfers who joined the Oakley Pro Baler. He also mentioned that he will continue his support for the growth of competitive surfing in the province of Aurora and make an effort to have another PSCT leg in Baler in 2018.

“I’m happy that the PSCT has put a lot of effort to professionalize the sport of surfing in the Philippines. I’m also proud of Neil Sanchez for representing Baler in the league. I will make sure that we will support the PSCT Baler leg next year,” said Vice-Governor Angara.