Wednesday, September 3, 2008



Philippines squeaked past Iran 85 - 84 in Group 2 of FIBA-Asia Under 18 Championship. It actually should have been 88 - 84 but the notoriously partisan or blind FIBA referees didn't see any goaltending violation from RR Garcia's shot. Fortunately this is a no-bearing game but the host will probably win the tournament as referee support, I mean hometown support is intense and could push them through.

The coaching staff was quick to notice that after only one minute of play, the scoreboard indicated that # 15 Gabriel Banal already had one foul to his credit – even if he hasn’t set foot on the court yet. That glitch was corrected.

Not even disgraced former NBA referee Donaghy can do that LOL!!!

Despite the Cricket / FIBA reporter's downplaying the boys' achievement, the host Iran gave a good fight. Here's the first-hand account of the Team Pilipinas' heroic struggle, courtesy of

The 4th quarter was a fitting finale. Down by 10 points 54-64 with 7 minutes of play left, The RP Youth were like wolves onto the smell of blood. They stalked their Iranian prey relentlessly exchanging baskets, running the fastbreaks, and when the opportunity to strike came up, RR Garcia hit two consecutive 3 pointers and Mark de Guzman converted on his own steal to bring the Philippines breathtakingly close 62-64 with 2:01 seconds remaining. De Guzman stole the scene again by hitting a 3-pointer and hussling on the inbound to effect a steal and a no-look assist to Matt Wright who finished it off with a layup 76-79. Frank Golla also came to town with a power drive that drew a foul. He converted both freethrows to bring Iran’s lead down to 1 point 81-82 with 29 seconds remaining. This is where we pick up the scene described at our article’s start. After Garcia’s phenomenal shots, a foul was called on Iran’s # 9 Jamshidi as he pulled on Marata’s shirt at inbound with 6 seconds left. Garcia went to the line to take the penalty shots but Iran protested and demanded that Marata should be the one. Marata sank both freethrows hitting “nothing but net” amidst the ear-shattering roar of the Iranian crowd.

Great job boys! The boys showed a lot of heart and courage! They are way better than the PBA squad which faltered against Iran one year ago in FIBA-Asia Championship for men. Coach Franz Pumaren is a genius with a unique ability to imbibe mental toughness on his players (his DLSU team is known to overachieve due to their mental strength and massive self-belief). He is truly the right coach for the youth team. The lessons he gave to his boys are valuable esp. when they represent the senior team in the future.

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