PAMAS beats Orlando

By Frank Celoza


It was September 1, 2000. Labor Day weekend in Montreal was a day that will live in infamy for a lot of players from Florida. This was the day the team from BOSTON, undermanned and a huge underdog, beat the superior team from Orlando. This was a classic case of David and Goliath.

Boston didn't win because our kids could jump higher, run faster nor shoot the ball with more accuracy but, rather because of the determination of our young kids headed by JONAS ALVE of Randolph and CHRIS LLAGA, son of Nitty JACILDO of Quincy. This tandem of quick guards attacked the opponent with such gusto that the Orlando team was under constant pressure from the start and were forced to back-pedal trying to neutralize the speed and sharp shooting ability of the New England duo.

Whenever there was a missed shot DANNY JOSEPH and BOY TENTOCO were there to

grab the rebounds. GERARD MATEO, who blocked shots and BRIAN CERVANTES who helped the offense immensely were always in the right spot playing defense.

In the early part of the game, coach LEE MIRANDA was not able to put together the combinations that seemed to work, yet Boston team managed to stay close because of their hassle. It was with over 5 minutes left in the game with the score of 35 to 28 Orlando ahead that Jonas Alve and Boy Tentoco put the squeeze and stole their passes and turned them into Boston points. With a timely drive and accurate passes Boston regained the lead.

With 3 minutes left Lee put in Chris Llaga as guard with Jonas Alve. This sealed the fate for Orlando when an inbound pass was stolen and Jonas turn this into a 3-point play. The final score was Boston 51, Orlando 42. It was a well-fought game. DICKSON BLANCAS, the head coach of Orlando said after the game, "Frank, your team deserved to win, they bite and scratch for every loose ball. BOSTON deserves this win".

Of course Boston also, sent two other basketball contingents, our 15-years-old and under group was unfortunately paired with the strongest team in this division, the MONTREAL ROYALE who inevitably became the champions. But not everything was lost. The experience will be used as a tool for training our young ones.

BOY VALENCIA got the taste of competition and TYRONE CELOZA, who at 10 years old played point guard, his exposure playing for Sharon Recreational League paid off. When he managed to score, the mothers at the bleachers were yelling "just give the ball to the small boy and let him shoot". Although these young boys were overmatched, MIKE TENTOCO, the CERVANTES brothers, and the LLAGAS brothers never wavered their enthusiasm, even CHRIS MATEO, the shy young man hassled and did the rebounding and defense in the middle.

There was a sense of accomplishment and pride, someone might say we lost again, but, others who saw the sparkle in these kids’ eyes can say that this was really a triumph. Indeed it was. For basketball is not all about winning games.

The other representative that was not expected to show much, surprised many in the tournament circle, the SUPER-MASTERS coached by TONY MATEO, gave the team from VIRGINIA a run for their money. Boston jumped to an early 8 point lead due to CHRIS LLAGA's (senior) outside shot and the crisp passes and sensational penetration of FRANK CELOZA. However, Virginia is an experienced team that didn’t succumb to pressure.

Only the inside moves of ANGEL MATEO and the rebounding of JESSIE VALENCIA kept the Virginians at bay. But, even with the tenacious defense of JEFF CHAN, Gil Cruz and Bong Guanlao of Virginia managed to keep their team within range for a final assault. With over 3 minutes left and Virginia ahead by 1 point RICK WARRICK and LEE MIRANDA with help from TONY MATEO who were looking up to heaven praying for oxygen tried to stave off the

barrage to no avail. Only Chris Llaga and Jeff Chan had some strength left, but Jeff fouled out. Yes, we gave them all they can handle and in the end, Virginia, the 1997 Champions prevailed with the score of 31 to 29.

This trip is not only about basketball, rather about how we cope, adjust, and share the experience with one another. Someone said that patience is a virtue and there’s a lot of it to pass around. When the lead driver is lost, we learn to understand that we need each other to get back on the right path. We begin to learn how to manage many tasks, to know the schedule of games, the

availability of food, the setting of meeting places and yes even the places to go dancing and do karaoke to entertain our families. We learn to encourage the kids to do well, to stay with them when they're in their agony of defeat or share their exultation in times of triumph.

This is also a time to hone our coaching skills, learning to face defeat with grace and to have the habit of accepting fault for every team lost than to pin the blame on any of the players. Coaches are like composers who sometimes must take a back seat and watch without prejudice. And if we ever stray from that thought, we know not our left from our right hand, we therefore, ought not to coach at all.

The participants of almost 2,000 energetic jovial Filipino-Americans and Filipino-Canadians does instill a lasting impression to our young kids who were raised in small rural communities and might ask, "Wow! Is it really these many Filipinos? ".

Credits to the success of this trip should be accorded to the BUS-load (yes, we travelled on a chartered bus) of parents who shared the burden and especially to DAVE AGUILO and BOBBY D'Asencio, Boston and New England representatives of FOREX, the shipping and delivery giants, who generously provided all the uniforms for our three team contingents.

Someone said writers should be objective and I believe I am. I am a coach, a player, a mentor, and most of all a father. I am an instant fragment of the team impartial to subjectivity that tends to overpower my objectivity. But as a team, we function together representative to the biggest and most organized Filipino-American tournament in North America. This was not just a basketball trip but a gathering of compatriots from 12 cities from North America and 6 cities from Canada who are subjective about our own teams, our friends, our families and our state. And when success comes our way, all of us who have swallowed the bitter taste of defeat, also deserve to share the sweet aroma of victory.

We’re not here to either win or lose. But, when we win we celebrate the victory. VICTORY indeed, YES we beat the team from Orlando, Florida.

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