PH wins 2018 Pacific Rim NCAA cage championship
PHILIPPINE team-San Beda Red Cub's remarkable win at the 2018 Pacific Rim NCAA Basketball Championship against Thailand is indeed a modern David versus Goliath fight, members of the team said Monday.
The Philippines reigned supreme after defeating defending champion Thailand Chulalongkorn, 50-40 at the one-game final of the Pacific Rim NCAA Basketball Championship 14-under division at Chulalongkorn University Coliseum in Bangkok, Thailand on April 29.
San Beda-Taytay’s front-liner Prince Ray Alao, the game's Most Valuable Player, said all exhaustion and the struggles they went through dissipated the moment the winner was announced.
"Sobrang saya po na ma-represent yung sariling country natin, at sobrang natutuwa kami na naiuwi namin yung trophy (We're overjoyed to represent our own country and we are glad that we brought home the trophy)," he added. "Minsan medyo natatakot kapag sobrang laki nila, pero puso lang (Sometimes we're a little intimidated because they're bigger than us but we have the heart to win)."
Alao said the team was close to losing faith after two of their key players were deemed unfit to play before departure.
"When we got to Thailand, everybody stepped up to achieve the trophy," he said.
Rey admitted the Philippine team was
"actually an underdog" at the game since the Thais "looked stronger."
Coach Inigo said the team's determination to win the game against these taller and bigger opponents came to fruition.
"Yung desire talaga ng mga bata iba, pati yung puso nila, ayaw nilang magpatalo kahit mas malalaki yung kalaban, mas mabibigat, mas mabibilis, talagang ayaw nilang magpatalo sa game kaya nanalo tayo (The desire of the players, who played with their heart, to win and not to be beaten even if their opponents are bigger, faster. They really wanted it more, that's why we won)," he told PNA.
“Medyo sinuwerte rin tayo sa three points natin, tuwing dumidikit yung kalaban nakaka-three points tayo kaya nahirapan silang bumalik sa game (We have also have luck on our side with the three points every time the opponents came close, we sank our three point shots. That made difficult for them to come back),” Inigo added.
The team, together with their parents and coach Manu Inigo met President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday at the Malacañan Palace, to present their hardwon accomplishment.
They also had a photo opportunity with Secretary Bong Go, Special Assistant of the President, who initially received them at the Premier Guest House. Sec. Bong Go, himself a Basketball enthusiast, sent off the team before leaving for Thailand and assured them of his and the President’s support.
"We were elated to meet him, na-starstruck kami (we were starstrucked)," said Rey Alao, Prince's father.
Equally proud Go earlier sent off the team during a half-time break of a Philippine Basketball Association finals game on March 25 before the young cagers left for the Bangkok tournament.
The invitation to join the championship was sent to Inigo's desk two months before the actual game. To make up with the short training period, Inigo said the team joined several league games to hasten the players' readiness.