Filipino Migrants Workers' Day Friendship Games Held in Riyadh
By Desert Dox
Riyadh--It is not the Staples Center in Los Angeles nor the Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden.
The Eastern Province quintet of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office Cuties which was backed by the United Filipino Basketball Federation’s new breed of basketball stars romped over the much hyped Riyadh selection 85-80 during the celebration of the 13th Filipino Migrant Workers Day at the Philippine Embassy, Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh on June 06, 2008.
The Filipino community in the Eastern Province was represented by a bunch of basketeers; albeit underrated but oozing with talents, big hearts and a will to win. They call themselves POLO-ERO Cuties - prototypes of their energetic and endearing Labor Attache, the Honorable David Des Dicang; who heads the delegation with the full support of UFBF’s Adviser, Mr. Jun Ayag.
The scores were clearly in favor of the visiting Cuties quintet as they were ahead by 8 points in the first half with Riyadh rallying to get 15 points after the first quarter. The furious comeback of the host team came in the third canto when it tied for 62 all. At the onset of the final quarter; it was a nip and tuck affair. Neither team allowed themselves to lodge in the basket. With 71-70 score in less than 3 minutes remaining, Riyadh five was a point ahead until Cuties’ triggerman Rolly Bisda fired a long 3-point shot with a foul to boot from Angeles. From then on, the Cuties safely protected and never looked back that ultimately bagged the coveted championship trophy.
“It was a sweet victory” enthused by their head coach, Leo Gines who was slapped with an uncalled technical foul few minutes after the 1st quarter had started. “The match unraveled the emergence of future superstars in the mold of basketball legends” he continued. Superb playmaking was seen in the personas of Neil Aclan and Coco Gonzalez. Towering 23 year-old center, Jengkins Bucao was a monster rebounder battling himself with the likes of Riyadh’s veteran players Yasay and Santander. Jun Derama was a power forward, a reminiscent of the fabled Crispa’s Villamin and Toyota’s Abe King. Sweet shooters Michael Bombita and Zaldy Patanao were unstoppable. The whole bench had contributed immensely to the game as showcased by the remainder of the quintet; Jerry Mallilin, Al Pineda, Jeffrey Bajar, Angel Singian and Glen Abrantes. The hard nosed defense employed by the Cuties at the remaining minutes of the game certainly preserved the win. The 6’4” Bucao was specifically instructed to overplay Santander, the inbounder on the ensuing play which made life more difficult for their offense. Gonzales was later adjudged as the Best Player of the game.
The big win would not have been historic without Cuties’ full backing from its organizers, team managers, coaching staff and EP supporters headed by Rodee Cariaso, Rene Manlulu, Francis Gascon, Aries Directo, Dexter Ramirez and Arman del Mundo. These are the same wonderful people running the UFBF, the name to reckon with in the basketball league in this part of Saudi Arabia. The team’s muses were the beauteous Ms. Apple King and Ms. Monica Sitchon who were escorted by their wonderful parents (Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy King - 2005 Bagong Bayani Awardeee and restaurateur couple Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Sitchon) all the way to Riyadh.
Yes, the dream match was not held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles nor at the Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden--the sites of the ongoing NBA Finals--the thrilling, down the wire sporting event was played with a bang at the Philippine Embassy grounds in Riyadh that will remain as a benchmark for sports organizers in future regional sporting events.