Filipino athletes who shined on the international stage in 2020

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 29) — In a year defined by a global health crisis, sports became a beacon of hope for Filipinos.

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced sporting events to take a time out, these athletes still brought pride to the country.

Teen ace Alex Eala together with Indonesian teammate Priska Nugrohoas won the Australian Open junior doubles title.

It was a banner year for Eala as she also reached the semifinal of the French Open juniors division. She's the first Filipino in 35 years to advance to the semis round of a Grand Slam tournament.

RELATED: Eala climbs up to number 2 in ITF world junior girls rankings

LPGA rookie Bianca Pagdanganan made the largest single-week leap in tour history.

After an impressive debut in the women's major, Pagdanganan climbed from world No. 712 to No. 234.

James De los Santos clinched the top world rank in e-kata after bagging 15 gold medals since he started competing in March.

De los Santos has collected 36 golds after scoring a hat trick in a recent virtual competition.

Teen prodigy Kai Sotto decided to skip collegiate basketball and suit up in the NBA's development program G League.

The 7-foot-2 Sotto got his first taste of semi-professional play against a group of NBA G League veterans in a scrimmage.

Eumir Marcial was the first Filipino boxer to secure a Tokyo Olympics slot after winning at the Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifiers.

RELATED: Tokyo-bound Marcial strikes gold in Olympic boxing qualifiers

In his pro debut, Marcial defeated American Andrew Whitfield via unanimous decision.

Thirdy Ravena is the first Filipino to play in the Japan B. League after signing with the San-en Neophoenix.

The former Ateneo standout was selected as part of the Japan B. League All-Star Game.

Mike Plania scored a majority decision victory against top bantamweight contender Joshua Greer Jr. He's the first Filipino boxer to see action amid the COVID-19 pandemic behind closed doors in Las Vegas, Nevada.