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PROS DON’T COME AROUND TOO OFTEN

When is the next time you’ll be able to see a pro team actually play on Guam? If you didn’t go watch Talk ‘N Text play, you missed out.

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By Patrick Lujan

Commentary

Pro players don’t come around Guam too often, let alone play a game of their profession.

Last Saturday night, local basketball fans were treated to a level of basketball not scene in person too often as the PBA’s Talk ‘N Text Texters played an exhibition game against our Guam National Men’s Team.

Thanks to organizers Bojo Molina, Ferdinand Permalino and Frank Cruz in cooperation with Guam head coach E.J. Calvo, we got a chance to watch a great exhibition between Micronesia’s best team and perennial Pacific Games powerhouse versus the PBA’s reigning champions. It’s never been done before.

With a large Filipino community on island, it was – as expected – a pro Talk ‘N Text crowd, but our boys came to play. We charged out to a 7-0 lead and actually led at halftime. Seve Susuico was a man possessed, holding his own inside as Guam’s tallest player and knocking down both his midrange and outside shots. J.P. Cruz, who earlier won the 3-point contest before the game – stayed hot during the game and dropped some bombs from the outside like he normally does. Imagine if we had our off-island bigs playing with De’Andre Walker, Earnest Ross and Mekeli and Tai Wesley.

But something at halftime told me things were going to change in the second half. There’s no way these pros were going to come here and lose, could they? That would be pretty embarrassing. Heck, if Guam beats them, it would say a whole lot about the PBA.

As expected, Talk ‘N Text flipped the switch in the third quarter as they threw us a lineup that averaged 6’5″ and applied a defense that suffocated our team, they could do nothing but shoot 3’s. They were too tall and too long. Jay Washington, Harvey Carey, Larry Fonacier and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser were just too tall and too talented for our Guam boys.

Offensively, it was a thing of beauty. The crisp passing. The precision cutting. The obvious fluidity and chemistry you would expect from a professional team. They turned a 41-34 halftime deficit into a double-digit lead in a snap of a finger and never looked back.

Development for Guam

The final score is irrelevant. The big winner here is Guam basketball. Never have they been able to get in a game like this on Guam. They look to the Andersen Bombers for their biggest competition and it ends there. Our team did great and there’s nothing to be ashamed about. They made Guam proud that night.

On the same week the Guam Legislature passed Bill 388 that would provide help to renovate the Tiyan Gym to become home of Guam Basketball, our national team gets a chance to face a pro team. Two huge accomplishments in a matter of days.

Richard 'The Total Package' Ybanez gets the autograph of PBA veteran Danny Seigle at the After Party. (courtesy photo)

Richard ‘The Total Package’ Ybanez gets the autograph of PBA veteran Danny Seigle at the After Party. (courtesy photo)

And word on the street is that the Guam Basketball Confederation is trying to develop a high school tournament that could take the place of the Far East and make it even better.

Other sports federations should consider the same.

Imagine a volleyball tournament on Guam with the Philippines, Tahiti and Samoa playing. There’s pro baseball teams throughout Asia. Something that can continuously develop our national programs instead of just Micro Games and Pacific Game. Heck, the soccer program does it all the time.

If only the GNOC would do its part in sports enhancement and support, our federations won’t have to carry the heavy burden all the time.

Half Full

Unfortunately, the Field House was only about half full. Maybe it was the impending storm or maybe it was the $25 price tag. Whatever the reasons were, Guam fans missed out on something that doesn’t happen on our island too often.

The last time the PBA was on Guam it was in 2006 in a game that was actually sanctioned and counted in their standings. Maybe this relationship can resurrect such a program and make it an annual thing.

Prior to that, it was in the late 1990’s when the likes of Bobby Parks, Benjie Paras, Jojo Lastimosa and Alvin Patrimonio played on island.

The intervals are far too long. Hopefully, the organizers can keep it going and not make it another eight years before we watch actual pro teams play on Guam again.

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Sports legend Joe Taitano used to run to school at JFK from his Yigo home and back. He continued this routine up to 1979 when he’d run from home to GW gym and back to practice for the South Pacific Games with the national basketball team. Guam went on to win its second straight SPG gold medal.

 

 

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