The Games That Play Us: The Cardiac Couple

RR Garcia (L)  and Chris Javier (R) came up big and hit the
game-winners in their respective games yesterday.

Two amazing, down-the-wire games.

Two amazing, buzzer-beating shots.

Hey, NBA, amazing happens in the UAAP, too.

As a basketball fan, these are the games, the moments, you live for. These are the games, the moments, that make that trip through EDSA traffic more than worth it. These are the games, the moments, that will occupy your mind on the trip back home, in the minutes before you sleep, and around the breakfast table in the morning.

There was really no better way to cap off Week 8 of the UAAP’s 75th season. Nobody could’ve written a better script. A couple of cardiac contests concluded what was a wickedly wild weekend. Wow.

Let’s do this.


I’m not an alumnus of the University of the Philippines. I don’t go out of my way to cheer for them. In every game, however, unless they go up against my alma mater, there’s a small part of me that hopes they win. Maybe it’s because I know UP is the school for iskolars. Maybe because of UP’s reputation as an awesome bastion of academic freedom. Maybe it’s because, on paper, they have a deep roster. Maybe it’s because I think they're due. Maybe because a lot of my relatives went to UP. Or maybe because a UP win is so rare it’s akin to seeing a shooting star or fireflies at night in the metro. It’s so rare, it’s bound to be memorable.

The thing is, for any UP fan, this game was anything but memorable – in a good way at least.

Things started awful for the Maroons, as the Red Warriors scored the first eight points of the contest. The Recto five seemed to play with more urgency. They seemed to want this game more. It was a good thing then that the Iskos were able to gather themselves and right the ship. They chipped at the deficit and finally went ahead late in the first period. UP actually erected a sizable 10-point lead mid-second quarter at 30-20, though the Warriors were still able to stay within striking distance by halftime.

When the second half began, the Reds took control again, waxing hot to take the lead and play keep-away for the next ten minutes or so. Chris Javier’s bucket with less than 9 minutes left in the game gave UE its biggest lead, 70-59, before the Maroons came roaring back with a 15-4 rally capped off by a booming Mike Silungan triple.

That was Silungan’s last make of the match. He ended up with 16 points in what might be his last great chance at a UAAP victory. This, of course, is considering that the Diliman squad will take on DLSU, UST, FEU, and NU in their last four playdates. Yikes. I hardly bet any of those teams would relish playing lightly against the Maroons.

One guy who didn’t play lightly here was Chris Javier. The former San Beda Red Cub finished with 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 block. The most important stat of course was his ONE TRIPLE. Prior to this game, Javier had not taken any attempts from downtown. ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. But what a time to make a trey! With less than 3 seconds on the clock, and the UP defense making life difficult for any easy penetration, shifty guard Roi Sumang drove hard left. He was bottled up by UP’s interior D, which prompted him to make a last second (literally) kick-out-jump-pass to Javier, who was all alone at the near corner. Javier caught the ball, squared up as quickly as he could, and launched it. Sumang landed out of bounds, knees bent, and eyes glued to the ball. It sailed through the air and found nothing but net.

Pandemonium for UE.

Dismay for UP.

If you’d watch the replay, you’d actually see UE mentor Boysie Zamar near the bottom of the screen cringe after realizing it was Javier taking the potential game-winning three. When it went in, though, Coach Boysie was among the first ones to jump for joy.

Oh how irony works, right?

Javier looked up at the crowd in silence. He had a poker face on. He looked equal parts proud and equal parts stunned.

He probably thought – what the hell just happened?

You won the game kid. With your first three of the season. In the last play of the game.

Anybody who caught that crazy endgame probably thought nothing could top it.

Boy, they were in for a big surprise.

Roi Sumang played well agains as UE finally
gave Boysie Zamar his first UAAP win in years.

MIke Silungan looks inconsolable as the Maroons
drop what should have been their most winnable game
of the second round.

Chris Javier's winning shot!

The scores:

UE 79 – Javier 20, Sumang 20, Santos 10, Belleza 9, Sumido 8, Duran 6, Alberto 2, Hernandez 2, Flores 2, Villarias 0, Olayon 0, Galanza 0
UP 76 – Silungan 16, Ball 14, Padilla 12, Soyud 10, Gamboa 8, Manuel 6, Lopez 4, Hipolito 4, Montecastro 2, Mbah 0, Romero 0, Gallarza 0, Asilum 0
QS: 17-19, 37-40, 66-58, 79-76
Key Performances:
Roi Sumang (UE) – 20pts, 7asts, 5rebs, 1stl, 1blk
Adrian Santos (UE) – 10pts, 15rebs, 3asts
Cris Ball (UP) – 14pts, 8rebs, 3blks


I’d hate to be the refs in any basketball game. I mean, the only real “losers” in any game are the referees. Losers because nobody really agrees with them 100%. Nobody will take their side in an absolute way. Nobody really has their backs. For all intents and purposes, a basketball referee goes into a game expecting everyone to be disagreeable, expecting that he’ll piss somebody off (warranted or otherwise), expecting that he’ll be on the receiving end of a dirty finger or a cuss word. It’s a thankless job, much like cleaning someone’s septic tank. You know you’re in for excrement, but you still go at it.

And then a game like this happens.

A game where the Final Four fortunes of a whole league hang in the balance. A game where both squads will be extra-critical of every “up in the air” call. A game where the lead would exchange hands five times in the last three minutes.

A game where the last shot may or may not have been released with a hundredth (not even a tenth!) of a second left.

Boy, I’d hate to be the refs in this game.

By now, everyone and his lola already knows what happened. With the game tied at 75, RR Garcia sets up the last play for FEU. Mark De Guzman hounds him to no end, forcing the former MVP to drive left. Ray Parks, however, gambles by taking a swipe at the ball. It works. Parks momentarily has control of the leather before Terrence Romeo catches up and pokes it. In a matter of a few seconds there is a scramble as the ball rolls to the NU side of the court. Two Bulldogs try to snatch the rock, but Roger Pogoy beats them to it. Pogoy, in what should be remembered as a VERY important spur-of-the-moment decision, hurls an overhead pass to the other end of the floor. RR Garcia received the pass, dribbles once, and hastily lefties the ball into the air. It bounces against the board, hits the rim a couple of times and trickles through.

Game. Set. Match. FEU.

BUT – did he release it in time?

In or out? Cue that miserable Sandara Park song.
What do you think?
(image screencap from

Shouldn’t be a problem because of the “advantage of instant replay and instant zooming-in,” right?

Not quite.

This was SO effin’ close.

Former UAAP TV anchor Mico Halili probably summed it up appropriately in his Facebook status early today – “Finally saw RR Garcia's winning lay-up. It's close. If you think it's counted, you're probably right. If you think it isn't, you're probably right too.”

It was THAT close.

Here’s the thing. As I watched it actually happen in real time, I thought it was good. When I saw the multiple replays, however, I suddenly became unsure. This is one of those cases where instant replay might have actually made things a bit more difficult for the officials.

Again, how irony works, right?

In the end, FEU was ruled the winner (“ruled the winner” is such a strange phrase to describe how a basketball game ends). They go up to a tie with UST for second place. NU goes down to fifth and now faces the prospect of having to win all their remaining games for a sure Final Four berth.

As of this writing the game result is officially being contested by NU. This time, it’s in the hands of Commissioner Ato Badolato.

Yikes. This time, I’d hate to be the Commish. I hope he’s not taking any medication for any cardiac condition, because, well, if he is, then this kind of issue is the last thing he needs.

UPDATE as of SEPTEMBER 7, 2012: The UAAP Board, through its technical committee, upheld the protest of National University. This means that Garcia's shot was nullified, and that a REPLAY OF THE WHOLE GAME will be done. WOW.

Emmanuel Mbe returned to action and
was productive for NU.

The FEU bench is united in claiming Garcia's shot was good.

This tussle for the ball between Ray Parks and Russel Escoto
typified the game between NU and FEU.

Terrence Romeo and Gelo Alolino shot the lights out
of the MOA Arena.
The scores:

FEU 77 – Romeo 20, Escoto 18, Hargrove 13, Garcia 10, Mendoza 7, Pogoy 6, Cruz 3, Sentcheu 0, Inigo 0, Belo 0, M. Bringas 0
NU 75 – Parks 26, Alolino 18, Mbe 14, Javillonar 7, Villamor 6, Rono 2, De Guzman 2, Singh 0, Rosario 0, Neypes 0, Labing-isa 0, Betayene 0
QS: 16-20, 35-29, 51-58, 77-75
Key Performances:
Russel Escoto (FEU) – 18pts, 8rebs, 2 treys
Terrence Romeo (FEU) – 20pts, 7rebs, 3 treys, 2asts, 1blk
Ray Parks (NU) – 26pts, 9rebs, 6asts, 2stls, 2blks

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