Watching Team Pilipinas – China Live
July 14, 2007 by Benjie Cruz
Back in 1998, I saw the RP Centennial Team â€“ Mighty China exhibition game live at the Araneta Coliseum. I figured why not make it a tradition to watch a Philippine-China basketball game every decade. Looking at the trend, my next schedule of a RPâ€”China game will be sometime in 2016. :-p
For the love of RP Team, around 2:30 pm yesterday, we disregarded the odds of a heavy EDSA traffic. Just to show support. And just right after the Magallanes fly, true enough, vehicle volume was high. So we turned right Estrella and took the long-cut but lesser traffic C5-Katipunan-Tuazon route.
Five minutes before 4:00 pm CHINA-RP tip-off we were seated at Araneta Center at the Upper Box A (P265 per tix). Lower boxes and courtside seats were sold-out (funny but during the 6 hour span, i didnâ€™t see those sections filled).
As expected, the Chinese players or at least 3/4 of them looked like human pogo sticks. During the game, Alapag met up with China # 20 that is full-head taller. Ok, lets not compare this guy to Jimmy. Letâ€™s try Honti. Li Yi, who was guarded by Honti the most, he was 7 to 9 inches taller than Honti. But even with height advantage, RP only down by 2, end of first quarter.
(Hontiveros might be at a disadvantage in height, but the hair factor, his hair looked like it’s freshly relaxed and oily. I got this feeling that he using Omega Pain Killer on his hair.)
In the second Q, a fresh Mark Caguioa showcased his speed as he schooled China with a couple of and-ones. The crowd went nuts every time Caguioa owned China. (Add the thunderous UST Drum and Bugle Corps was really loud, another game, I could be headed to an EENT specialist. Iâ€™m in-charge, I prefer no big band. BTW, this is not only me, others too were begging them to stop.)
I sensed that Adiljan and literally his boys, were challenged by RP and they respect our capability. China’s huddles were long and focused. Every time China errs, Adiljan looked like a drill sergeant, he was at his player’s faces, constantly. The idea of Adiljan acting like a drill sergeant is not far-off. As I get it, Chinese national players are automatically enlisted in PROC army. They are basically, soldiers.
A lot of offensive fouls and travelling called on China. In my count, around 10 offensive fouls called against them. Every foul, Adiljan was losing 10 strands of hair. 10 times 10, there you have it, 100 strands just in this game. Philippines still lucky at the halfâ€™s end. We were able to tie the game at 37-all during the break via Mick Penissi buzzer beater three.
(Eating time. Official Araneta center food vendor? Pizza Hut! The Pizza Hut kiosk got a taste of my fury, I returned the SPRITE we bought for it tasted like “ice tubig” sold at your nearest brgy. basketball court. They replaced it, btw.)
Sadly, during the break, there were no Astig Dolls. Now I miss the gyration.
Instead, a comical cheering dance happened. The UST cheering squad performed. I was informed that after their halftime PBA demo, they now changed their name to UST jeering squad. Just 20 seconds in the act, one little lady came down crushing down to the floor, flat back. Ouch! no really, it was ouchy-ouch level. She went on anyways. Next sequences were really unbelievable. Every few seconds, one by one, they were hitting the ground. They might be running on lugaw or something. Watching them, I felt like I’ll have a heart attack. Another bulletin, UST cheering squad’s motto now will either be “NO BLOOD, the show must go on” or “Walang Duguan!”
Third quarter, Mark continued to shred China’s defense, a couple of and-ones again. One thing for sure, China having young players, they are not hard foulers. With their inexperience, proper pressing too, they are susceptible to errors. Against RP, they committed lots of it (OK, we had our share). However, younger legs give them energy to press the whole game. But from our guards showing last night, they can handle press. Jay Jay not even in action.
At the end of third we expanded the lead to 10. Mainly, because of Dondon Hontiveros outside shots. The newly “relaxed hair” might have helped. You know, aero-dynamics in play perhaps.
Up by 10, you’d think, a win is on the way. Sadly, we lacked the killer’s instinct. To really kick butts. You know, little things just so we can seal the deal. Why not turn defense one notch higher, not settle on outside shots, attack the rim and be fouled, or protect the ball even more, etc.
What you give is what you get. A mild RP let up, and guess what, China was back in the game. You saw it, Jimmy Alapag missed 2 shots and we’re done (what I donâ€™t understand, the crowd was stomping, shouting and clapping when Jimmy was shooting the FTs. Shouldnâ€™t the crowd give Jimmy peace around that time? Kerby Raymundo, not in the game, he was signaling to crowd, SSSShhhhhh! SSSSShhhhh!)
With no time-out and down by three, Mark Caguioa rushed and he was defended well. He passed to KW, but Kelly missed a potential game trying shot. Game.
Few minutes later, after the loss sunk in, I saw Bogs Adornado, Atoy Co, Allan Caidic and Alvin Patrimonio chit chatting on their way to the dug out. I started imagining, have these four players in their prime and put Asi Taulava and a decent point guard, this China Youth Brigade will have their hands full. You bet.
Aside from Jay Jay, others also sat this one out. Raymundo registered DNP while Yap and Seigle were out. Yet, we gave focused China a good fight, I am beginning to believe that even China, we can beat them during what could be the biggest 3 games of a lifetime.
And because I am beginning to believe, I already have the souvenir Philippine flag I got at Araneta Coliseum, planted and flying in my car. It will be there the rest of the way. GO PILIPINAS!