Four foreign teams are in the country to challenge the Philippine powerhouses in high school basketball.
One of those hails from New Zealand and, of course, they brought the traditional “haka” to the 2017 National Basketball Training Center.
As if the Kiwis’ war dance needed any more color, this version had many performers with Filipino blood.
In fact, only three of the 12 players of Camp David don’t have any roots in the Philippines, according to head coach Manu Hoque.
Nonetheless, Hoque and all of Team New Zealand were happy with what they put on the floor. “The ‘haka’ is always part of our culture, especially in sports. That’s always something that we’re always accustomed to doing,” he said.
He then continued, “I think the audience really liked it and the boys did well. We were really glad that we were able to share it here.”
While they were amazed by the culture brought by their opponents, Far Eastern University-Diliman said they were far from shaken by the war dance. Asked if it had any effect on them, Jack Gloria said, “’Di naman masyado.”
He was quick to add, however, “Pero masaya kami. Magandang experience pa rin naman na nakita namin.”
Captain Kenji Roman seconded the sentiment. “Magaling po sila. Natutuwa kami habang pinapanood sila kanina, pero okay lang sa amin,” he expressed.
Indeed, the Baby Tamaraws’ confidence from start to finish showed as they made quick work of the Kiwis, 81-53.
Only Eric Jabel and JJ Sapinit were in double-digits, but all 14 players used by coach Allan Albano contributed in the scoring column and the rebounding department.
They lost by 28 points, but Camp David said they considered their first game only as a stepping stone. “The boys were really new to the experience playing in this arena. Having a UAAP team as first game is a really big challenge,” he said.
He then continued, “The boys learned a lot and we’re really looking forward to the next days.”
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.