Filipino-Chinese Veterans Basketball Association (FCVBA) reclaimed its 65-and-above crown in dramatic fashion, pulling off a 54-50 come-from-behind win over host Thailand in the ASEAN Veterans Basketball Tournament at Indoor Stadium 3 of Chiang Mai Sports Complex in Chiang Mai.
Given up for dead after falling behind by 9 points midway through the payoff period, the Fil-Chinese seniors came through with a mighty 16-3 finish to post what could be the most enthralling title win in the tournament.
And credit should go to former PBA player Benjie Poblete, guard Andrew Ongteco and seldom-used Antonio Go who produced one big play after another to clinch the title via a four-game sweep.
Exhausted while enduring a number of physical plays, Poblete completed FCVBA’s remarkable comeback with a go-ahead basket before the team watched a Thai player miss an open 3-point attempt.
FCVBA godfathers – Jimi Lim of Ironcon Builders and Terry Que of Rain or Shine – and coaches Elmer Reyes and Jerry Gonzales heaved a sigh of relief only when Bong dela Cruz secured the rebound and made a perfect pass to the streaking Zotico Tan for the insurance basket.
“What a win it was, dumaan kami sa butas ng karayom,” said Que, who was held scoreless this time in the face of Hatyai’s solid defense early on.
“That’s resilience, we did not give up,” said Lim who was all praises for Poblete who almost singlehandedly carried the fight until Go and Ongteco delivered clutch baskets.
The 6-foot-3 Poblete, who played for four years in the PBA, erupted for 27 points, including a 3-point play that cut Hatyai’s lead down to two before Ongteco nailed a side jumper to tie the count at 50-all.
But the biggest revelation for FCVBA was Go, who fueled the team’s comeback by scoring three of his eight points in the crunch. Ongteco added six points.