By this time, I wasn’t really into the PBA anymore, so I wasn’t able to follow this team closely. They all looked alien to me by then. I had switched over to the MBA, but when that league folded up, well…..
Anyway, after seemingly trying everything out the last 3 Asian Games, the PBA introduced something new into the 2002 National Team: Fil-foreigners. Are those claiming to be Fil-foreigners, really Fil-foreigners? Hard to say. If you look at the history of the Fil-foreigners in the league, like Asi, for example, his status as Fil-foreigner has been confirmed, revoked, confirmed, revoked and then confirmed again, depending on the political climate, and the people sitting at the DOJ. So its kinda hard to say for sure anymore.
My impression was, that it was a team with many Fil-foreigners, 7, with only 5 local, homegrown talents. Most of the faces were new, and at that time, not many have had the same achievements as the players in the last 3 Asian games. I recognize Don Hontiveros (I’d like to call him, “The Hunta Virus”, as in, Don-Don “The Hunta Virus” Hontiveros) from the MBA, a tall, deadly shooter in the mould of Allan Caidic. Kenneth Duremdes and Dennis Espino were holdovers from the last Asian Games. The rest, were almost unrecognizable to me.
This team got the unpleasant reputation as the all-pro team with the 2nd highest losing blow out score to China, losing by 41 pts., 2nd only to the 1990 team’s 65 pt. blowout. But, then, it made up for it, but nearly beating Sokor in the semis. It was an exciting game, and certainly got my attention.
The next day, though, still buoyed up by the close game to Sokor, all my expectations went crashing back down when they lost that game against Kazakhstan. We had beaten the Kazahks in the last Asian Games twice, and with this team nearly kicking out the Sokors, it should have no problems with these Kazakhstanis. Alas, well, we all know what happened: We lost, and were left out of the medal race.
Disheartened or not, a Bronze would’ve at least given us a medal. Besides, these Kazakhs were supposed to be beatable, what with our close game against the Sokors, so how come we lost? Does it mean, that the Kazakhs were just as good as the Sokors, then? At any rate, the Kazakhs got their revenge on our team for our humiliation of them in the 1998 Asian Games.