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Lucky to see Philippines’ last Fiba win

/ 09:25 PM October 06, 2015

After another big disappointment in Changsha City in Hunan, China, I suppose I can consider myself extremely lucky to have witnessed live the last Fiba Asia Men’s Championship the Philippines won 30 years ago.

It happened in 1985 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when the tournament was still known as the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Men’s Championship.

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American coach Ron Jacobs steered the team led by Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Elmer Reyes, Alfie Almario, Hector Calma, Jerry Codiñera and naturalized cagers Jeff Moore, Chip Engelland and Dennis Still.

The national team, also known as Northern Consolidated Cement (NCC), was fully supported by Danding Cojuangco, who was appointed the country’s project director for basketball team. The NCC team was composed of amateur cagers recruited, trained and developed by the staff of the project director.

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The team went on to win the annual Jones Cup, a difficult feat since competition in the international tournament at that time was really tough.

We never won in the ABC or the Fiba Asia after 1985.

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The late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., a big fan of basketball, was one of those who could not forget the NCC’s dual feat.

I met FPJ for the first (and last) time during a luncheon celebrating the birthday of Vintage’s Bobong Velez, whose production outfit used to air the Philippine Basketball Association games.

FPJ related how thrilled he was with the double victory that he obtained a tape of both games which he watched over and over again.

“And every time I watched, I got scared at some point that the result would change,” he joked.

* * *
I could be mistaken in assuming that world boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, if he’s running for senator in the 2016 elections, will no longer have time to squeeze in a fight before election day.

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Observers in the local boxing scene were quick to disagree.

“There’s plenty of time,” they chorused.

“He can train February and March and fight April. Unlike other candidates he doesn’t need much time moving around the country introducing himself,” they added.

“No bigger stage to stage a campaign than inside the ring,” another expert said.

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TAGS: air, Championship, FPJ, tournament
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