Remembering The 2012 FIBA Asia Cup Philippine National Basketball Team

‘Line Up’
(Centers) – Marcus Douthit, Sonny Thoss, Enrico Villanueva, JR Reyes
(Forwards) – Ranidel De Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Jared Dillinger, Matthew Ross, Larry Fonacier
(Guards) – LA Tenorio, Gary David, Jeff Chan
(Head Coach) – Chot Reyes
(Assistant Coaches) – Jong Uichico, Ryan Gregorio, Josh Reyes

Mac Baracael, Garvo Lanete and Sol Mercado were initially part of the team that competed in the 2012 Jones Cup Tournament, but were later released as the team was pared down to only 12 men as per FIBA rules for major tournaments. Jared Dillinger took the place of Solomon Mercadon for the main 2012 FIBA Asia Cup Tournament.

‘Naturalized Player’
For this incarnation of the Men’s National Basketball team, Chot tried a couple of things different from the previous National Teams. First was having a Naturalized Center in Marcus Douthit. Marcus was a fit for the team both on and off the court. He has great low post moves, a decent outside shot, a great rebounder an excellent shot blocker as well. He is also great in terms of catching the ball inside the paint and going strong to the basket.

Attitude-wise, he is quiet and unassuming, never one to hog the limelight, and just goes on to try to do his job game in and game out. He knows how to pace himself, usually deferring to his teammates initially. But he also knows when to step up and take charge if needed, like whenever he sees his team faltering during the game. Overall, Marcus was about as close to perfect as we could get for a naturalized big man, and credit the coaching staff for making an excellent choice in him.

The only chink in his armor is his age, he is already 32 years old as of 2012, and no doubt only has a couple more years of active, competitive play left in him.

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Remembering The 2002 Asian Games Philippine National Basketball Team

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.
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Remembering The 1998 Asian Games Philippine National Basketball Team

The 1990 team had an all-star cast, but marginal teamwork. The 1994 team had better teamwork, but not enough “big guns”, so to speak. So, the PBA decided to bet it all for the 1998 team: Get an all-star team, and then give it all the support it needs to be able to jell together as a team. That should win us at least a Silver, and make a serious run against China.

The lineup, was the “best of the best” of the PBA. Patrimonio undersized in the last Asian Games? Not this team this time around, oh no. Not with EJ Feihl (7’0?), Andy Seigle (6’8?) and Marlou Aquino (6’9?) alternating at C. Dennis Espino (6’6?) and Zandro Limpot (6’6?) at PF. “The Captain” was relegated at SF, and was there mainly for experience.

The SF line up was formidable: Vergel Meneses, and Kenneth Duremdes. Both are tall, athletic, flashy, with decent jumpers. The best the PBA had to offer at that time. Add in Allan Caidic, arguably the best shooter in PBA history (Adornado, Co and Brown fans will surely protest) at OG. The flashy Johnny A. at PG, with the steady Racela as back up. In terms of star power, this team easily equalled the 1990 team.

This team not only had the star power, but it also formed well ahead of the 1998 Asian Games to give the team time to “jell”, and thus have teamwork. The PBA even bannered how it had to spend P20M to allow the team to compete in overseas tournaments. It lost a close exhibition game against the Chinese, played a couple of games in the US against US NCAA Div. 1 teams, and won the Jones Cup.

This team was formed with the lessons of the past 2 Asian Games in mind, and was arguably the best prepared PBA team that was sent to the Asian Games thus far. If there was a team out there that could get the Gold Medal in the Asian Games, this was supposed to be it.
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Remembering The 1994 Asian Games Philippine National Basketball Team

For the 1990 Asian Games, the culprit cited for the 65 pt. embarassment against China was “… lack of teamwork …”. So, the PBA, for the 1994 Asian games, decided to try another approach: Get the coach and players of an existing team, and then just reinforce it with better players as necessary.

At that time, the most dominant team in the PBA was San Miguel Beer, with 1 (or was it two, even?) grandslams (3 tournament crowns successively won in a season). So, they took the starters and coach for that team, then just added some of the other star players in the league. The team, composed of 6 San Miguel players, and 6 All-Stars.

It may not be the “best of the best” of the PBA at that time, unlike the 1990 “PBA Dream Team”, but it was nonetheless a pretty good lineup, with San Miguel starters Hector Calma, Ato Agustin and Allan Caidic. The other non-San Miguel star players were Johnny Abbarientos, Kenneth Duremdes, Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera and Marlou Aquino.

The team had the misfortune of having to play South Korea in the eliminations, and naturally bowed down to the SK team, though the score wasn’t very embarassing, with only an 8-pt. Victory (86-78). Because of that defeat, it had to face China in the quarterfinals. Again, the result wasn’t very embarassing, only a 9-pt. win by China this time around, and left that team to battle no more than the Bronze medal.

“The Captain” looked small playing PF everytime he tried to post up a bigger player. Patrimonio had great athleticism, great coordination and skill. But somehow, that was negated by the taller opponents, especially when they double team on him.
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Remembering The 1990 Asian Games Philippine National Basketball Team

It definitely was the best of the best that Philippine Basketball could offer at that time. Coached by a living legend, Robert Jaworski, the team was composed mostly of past and future MVPs / Mythical 5 selection like Ramon Fernandez, Benjie Paras, Alvin Patrimonio, Hector Calma, Allan Caidic, Ronnie Magsanoc and Samboy Lim.

When the team arrived in Beijing, China, they attracted a lot of attention from the media there, primarily because it was the only all-professional squad in the world at that time that will be competing in amateur basketball for the first time. – The team was mobbed everywhere they went, and there was a sort of excitement and electricity in the air about the all-PBA team’s participation in the games.

The coaching staff was fondly referred to as the “Tatlong Itlog” during the duration of the tournament, mainly to the identical clothes they wore during the games. They all wore matching Black Sweaters over Long Sleeves and Ties during the tournament.

One vivid memory of those games was how Chito Loyzaga defended against the 7’7″ North Korean giant, Ri Myung Hun. The 6’2″-6’3″ Chito, whose head was only up to Ri’s solar plexus, did an excellent job on defense then. With his wide body, he just kept pushing Ri as far as possible from the basket whenever he was on the defensive end of the court. Classic, textbook post defense: Arms out, denying the passing lanes, and pushing Ri out with his wide chest. The diminutive Chito against the Nokor giant looked even comical, at times.

The Philippines had an impressive stint during the first few games of the tournament, until the Quarterfinals, when it had its first major test against the Chinese National team.
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