STAGS UPSTAGE LISTLESS GREEN ARCHERS; KOREANS, PINOYS ASK AFTER LOSS: WHAT IF?
MANILA, OCTOBER 14, 2002 (STAR) By Joey Villar - San Sebastian prevented what could have been a UAAP sweep of NCAA as it drowned La Salle, 66-59, yesterday in the UAAP-NCAA Benefit Games dubbed "The Final Showdown for Bantay Bata 163" at the Araneta Coliseum.
Stepping up in the absence of starting guard Christian Coronel, rookie Michael Gonzales fired 16 points, helping the Stags, the NCAA back-to-back champions, repulse the Archers.
Gonzales was the spark San Sebastian needed in unleashing key runs in a span bridging the third and fourth quarters as the Stags succeeded in where three other NCAA teams failed versus UAAP rivals in the first three games of the competition.
Earlier on the day, the prolific duo of James Yap and Ronald Tubid delivered the lethal blows as the Warriors, who narrowly missed the 65th UAAP finals, walloped the Jose Rizal Bombers, 85-68.
St. Benilde, the NCAA runner-up, lost to UAAP titlist Ateneo, 64-70, while Philippine Christian University bowed to Santo Tomas, 82-90, in Saturday’s kickoff of this 18-day event staged for the benefit of abused kids under Bantay Bata 163’s care.
Coronel along with forward Jam Alfad, vital cogs in San Sebastian’s title win over St. Benilde this year, opted to play for Montana Pawnshop in the ongoing PBL-CBF dual meet in Cebu City, making Gonzales the take-charge guy in the contest.
Curiously, Mike Cortez was sparingly used, scoring only a three-pointer, the game’s first fieldgoal, while Mark Cardona was not used at all.
Santiago Cabatu Jr., one of former PBA cager Sonny Cabatu’s two sons in La Salle’s fold, tried to carry the fight for the Archers as he scattered 12. No other Archer scored in double figures.
UE buckled down to work early and totally outclassed Jose Rizal.
The sweet-shooting Yap and the flamboyant Tubid, in his last year for the Warriors, combined for 34 points.
Marco Fajardo and Joel Finuliar paced the Heavy Bombers with 17 and 15 points, respectively.
***Koreans, Pinoys ask after the loss: What if...? By Lito A. Tacujan The Philippine Star 10/14/2002
BUSAN, South Korea – The defeat to South Korea still rankles and will probably linger on for long.
It was still the talk the morning after – in the Philippine side of the Athletes Village, in the small circle of supporters and even on a cluster of hard-nosed sports scribes covering the Asian Games. It was a loss – 69-68 decision – that felt like death.
The scene was not unlike a wake and in a sense it is, for Philippine basketball, for a team, which had worked so hard for nine months.
The shock of losing a game within seconds of victory at the Sajik Gym before about 5,000 fans hasn’t really ebbed and it would surely be the topic here and back home for some time.
In fact, video clip of Korea’s last seven-second play was replayed again and again on Korean television. There were a lot of "what ifs?"
What if national coach Jong Uichico had called a timeout in the last 23.9 seconds before Olsen Racela made his crucial two free throws?
What if Asi Taulava made even one of the two free throws in the last 2:03 of the contest? What if the Nationals stayed focused on the task at hand instead of celebrating on the court and on the bench when Racela fired the three-pointer?
What if even one of Uichico’s trusted men in the coaching staff reminded him that there were two team fouls to give, two team fouls to disrupt the Koreans’ final offensive thrust?
What if Ron Jacobs was around? What if Danny Seigle was around instead of hobbling in a crutch on the stand?
They were that close to making it to the finals against China and getting a crack at gold but as Lee Sang Min’s Hail Mary of a shot swished through the net at the buzzer, the Nationals found themselves unable to break the 40-year drought.
"I take the blame. The biggest mistake I made in the game was not calling a timeout. I should have called a timeout so if Olsen should miss the free throw, they would know what to do," said Uichico.
The Nationals unleashed their best form in the Games. Their outside offensives that were missing in the China encounter came in full throttle behind Kenneth Duremdes and Noy Castillo. And the defenses of Jeffrey Cariaso, Rudy Hatfield and Dondon Hontiveros on Moon Kyun Eun were so effective the Korean ace gunner literally bled for his 18 points.
The RP team seized the initiative early and was at its best when it led by 10 points, 25-15, when Hontiveros, rising to the occasion, fired a jumper at the start of the second period.
But the Koreans came back with 12 straight points aided by three of seven turnovers the Nationals committed in the period for a 27-25 count. Five lead changes and three deadlocks would ensue from there with the RP five moving ahead for the last time on Racela’s three pointer off Bang Sung Yoon in the last 51 seconds of the contest. That was when history changed course. Racela missed the free throws and Lee made the three-pointer after a scramble in front of the Korean goal in the last seven seconds of the match.
"I am proud of what we have accomplished here and I hope the people in the Philippines will appreciate the efforts the players have shown throughout the Games," he said.
And he will not come back to the Games. "One is enough. It’s all hard work but we showed it could be done (beating Korea) and I say good luck to the next coach and bunch of players to the next Asian Games," he said.
He said the gamut of experience he has had in the Asian Games has given him wider perspective in his career as a coach.
"I have gained so much knowledge and experience in this Games, it has given me wider perspective about the game of basketball," said Uichico. "There are so many aspects in the game I didn’t know because in the PBA we’re one-dimensional. I think other coaches deserve the chance to coach the national team."
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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