Sports scribes name Donaire, Orcullo athletes of the year

The Philippine Sportswriters Association declared boxer Nonito Donaire Jr. and billiards superstar Dennis Orcullo as its Athletes of the Year for 2011.

Both Donaire and Orcullo will be awarded with their second PSA Athlete of the Year plum for their sterling performance in the past year.

In 2007, Donaire annexed his first PSA award with swimmer Miguel Molina while Orcullo will be receiving the Athlete of the Year award for the second consecutive time after he joined Asian Games gold medalist Rey Saludar and Biboy Rivera and world 9-ball champion Francisco “Django” Bustamante for the honor in 2010.

Donaire claimed his second world title in three years in February after a second round technical knockout over Mexican Fernando Montiel in their World Boxing Council and World Boxing Organization bantamweight crown in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On that same month, Orcullo silently pocketed the world 8-ball crown in Fujairah, United Arab Emirates posting a convincing 10-3 win over Neils Feijen of Netherlands.

Donaire and Orcullo went on to accomplish more feats in 2011.

The 29-year-old Donaire successfully defended his crown with a unanimous decision over Omar Andres Narvaez of Argentina at the famed Madison Square Garden in New York.

The 32-year-old Orcullo flew to Palembang, Indonesia to represent the country in the Southeast Asian Games where he proved that he is a world-caliber by capturing the gold in the 8-ball event.

Orcullo also won the Player of the Year trophy by the World Pool and Billiard Association.

Donaire and Orcullo will be feted on March 3 in the PSA Annual Awards Night at the Manila Hotel.

Also strongly considered for the Athlete of the Year citation was golfer Juvic Pagunsan, who topped the Asian Tour Order of Merit becoming the first Filipino to do so.

Manny Pacquiao, meanwhile, has already been elevated to the PSA Hall of Fame making him ineligible for the yearly award.

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