September 11, 2019
Teams from Tunisia and Angola must have gone home happy in ending African basketball’s 45-year futile showing against the Philippines in world level competitions.
Before the Tunisians’ 86-67 and the Angolans’ overtime 84-81 victories, respectively, over the Filipinos in the ongoing 2019 FIBA World Cup, no African side ever had scored a single triumph over the many-time Asian Games and Asian Basketball champions in their head-to-head duel since the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
It was in that Mexico Olympic Games 45 years ago that a team from this shore crossed path with its African counterpart in Senegal.
The Filipinos, represented then by a selection made up of team captain Alberto Reynoso, Robert Jaworski, Orlando Bauzon, Danilo Florencio, Jimmy Mariano, Alfonso Marquez, Edgardo Ocampo, Adriano Papa Jr., Renato Reyes, Joaquinn Rojas, and Elias Tolentino routed Senegal, 80-68 finish 13th on a 5-1 win-loss slate.
Coach was a former National himself, Carlos “The Big Difference” Loyzaga. Roel Nadurata and Freddie Webb were alternates.
The Philippines bowed to Italy, 68-91; Spain, 79-108; the United States, 79-98; Panama, 92-95; and Puerto Rico, 65-89.
The Filipinos and the Senegalese met again four years later in 1972 in the Munich Summer Games where coach Ning Ramos and his boys repeated, 68-62.
Ramos’ dirty dozen composed of Ocampo, the skipper, William “Bogs” Adornado, Narciso Bernardo, Manny Paner, Ricardo Cleofas, Papa, Marte Samson, Florencio, Mariano, Rosalio Martirez, Rogelio Melencio, and Webb, submitted a 6-3 card, ending, too, in 13th.
The then reigning Asian Basketball Confederation (now FIBA Asia) titleholder’s other wins came at the expense of Egypt, also one of AfroBasket’s 54 member countries, by default, and Japan, 82-73.
They lost to Poland, 75-90; Puerto Rico, 72-92; West Germany, 74-95; Yugoslavia, 76-117; Russia, 80-101; and Italy, 81-101.
The Filipinos were also the Africans’ nemesis on two occasions in the FIBA world Cup in 1974 in San Juan, Puerto Rico where the Nationals with coach Valentin “Tito” Eduque calling the shots from the bench, eked out an 87-86 squeaker over then Central African Republic.
Eduque’s team of Mariano, the team captain, Adornado, Jaworski, Francis Arnaiz, Cleofas, Ramon Fernandez, Alberto Guidaben, Martirez, Melencio, Paner, Reynoso and David Regullano, which swept the ABC championship a year ago, won a pair and lost four times in a 13th place finish.
The Filipinos, who, too, won over Australia, lost, though, to Argentina, 90-111; Spain, 85-117; Mexico, 84-101; and Czechoslovakia, 112-119.
The Philippines went hiatus for 41 years after hosting the event in 1978 before coming back five years ago in Spain where it took the measure of favorite whipping boy Senegal, 81-79, also in extra five minute.
That team, coached by Chot Reyes, had Jimmy Alapag, L.A. Tenorio, Jeff Chan, Jayson Castro, Gary David, Ranidel de Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Paul Lee, Japeth Aguilar and Marc Pingris.
Besides surrendering in defeat to Angola and Tunisia, coach Yeng Guiao’s 2019 squad, likewise, met its waterloo in Italy in a 108-62 blowout and Serbia, 126-67, in the preliminary round.
The Filipinos’ 95-75 setback to Iran in their final outing dropped them to 0-5 win-loss record, the same submitted by fellow Asians Japanese, Senegalese and Ivory Coast.
They end up dead last in the tournament, after Jordan defeated Senegal, 79-77, in the final game of the classification phase on Monday in Shanghai.
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