THE Pilipinas Aguilas gave the visiting Korean Tigers a good fight before running out of steam, 33-38, in an international football friendly at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig City on Saturday.
The hosts led for much of the first three quarters and were still holding on to a 33-30 lead in the endgame, but the Tigers finished the game with a touchdown and a two-point conversion to steal the victory.
Despite the disappointing finish, Aguilas coach John Walker told SPIN.ph he liked the team’s improvement from previous losses to Japan and Australia in its previous friendlies last year.
But Walker said the national team, composed of professionals and students, needs to be more disciplined and devote more time to practices in order to become more familiar with their game plan and positioning.
“We have good throwing, good receiving and good running and our guys know how to block, they got the basics down pat,” Walker said.
Walker said he wants to see the Aguilas competing in the 2017-2018 IFAF Asian Continental Championship and the IFAF Seniors World Championship.
Korean running back Joo Seong Min was named game MVP while linebacker Na Jung Beom was named Defensive Player of the game. Offensive player honors went to Aguilas’ Johnny Babaran whose performance on the field earned praise from Tigers coach Lawrence Bowlby.
The Aguilas opened the scoring with a touchdown in the first quarter on a screen pass from quarterback Mike Hoese to running back Babaran to the delight of the partisan crowd in McKinley Hills.
But the Tigers, composed mostly of university students and football enthusiasts, finished the quarter with a touchdown and a two-point conversion of their own.
A 20-yard touchdown pass by Hoese to Aguilas wide receiver Ivan Klarichighlighted the second quarter as the home team finished the first half on top, 23-16.
The Koreans clawed their way back, however, relying on their conditioning and crisp passing to close the gap at the end of third quarter, 26-22.
The Tigers grabbed the lead, 30-26, at the final 6:56 mark on a touchdown and a two-point conversion, but the Aguilas quickly countered with a TD reception by wide receiver Ian Lim to make it 33-30 and pave the way for the thrilling finish.