Palarong Pambansa booters earn respect in international tourney

ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 19, 2016 04:16 PM
Palarong Pambansa booters earn respect in int'l tourney
Pilipinas Dragons head coach Ayi Bimbo talks about the team's performance in the prestigious Mediterranean International Cup in Costa Brava, Spain.

A team assembled three years ago composed of products of Palarong Pambansa gained respect from youth squads from different nations and world-class clubs.     

The Pilipinas Dragons came away with a respectable showing as the first ever Filipino team to compete in the prestigious Mediterranean International Cup in Costa Brava, Spain.

Coached by former University of the Philippines midfielder Ayi Bimbo, the Filipinos ended their campaign in the meet held from March 22-27, with a 1-3 record, while drawing their game against Bellmare Fujisawa of Japan, 1-1.

Over 500 teams in 42 countries saw action in the 16th edition of the tournament, which was attended by youth teams from the world’s best soccer clubs and national teams such as FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Inter de Milan, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Atletico de Madrid, Celtic de Glasgow, Villareal, Malaga CF, and RCD Espanyol.

The Dragons’ lone win came in a 2-1 upset of Spain’s UE Balafia that saw the young Filipinos rallied at the Llagostera Stadium.

“The tournament opened their eyes to become the best that they wanted to be because all teams in Spain and in Europe are well organized and very competitive,” said Ayi in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate, where he was joined by Pilipinas Dragons football club president Atty. Danilo Roleda and the entire team led by team captain Carlos Roleda and Lance Aquino.

The young Roleda admitted the team initially was intimidated by their bigger and more experienced opponents.

“But coach Ayi told us that football is not all about height, but also about skills and what you can do with the ball,” he said.

The Dragons lost against AEC Manlleu of Spain, 1-3, and Sel Espana-Brasil, a Spain-based Brazilian team, 0-6.

But it was their 1-2 setback against Alphense Boys of The Netherlands in their final game of the tournament which proved to be the most memorable.

The team led 1-0 going to the final 10 minutes, only to yield two successive goals against their opponents to lose the match.

But the Alphense Boys gave a big compliment to the Filipinos by uttering to them the word ‘we respect’, and then chose to exchange jerseys with the Dragons.

“It’s a testament on the saying that it’s not how good you are, but on how well you played,” stressed Aquino.

Other members of the team first organized after the 2013 Palarong Pambansa in Dumaguete City are Kimmayong Ayahao, Louis Campos, Neon Casibang, Jose Domingo, Rian Dy, Paolo Joaquin Fernandez, Antonio Kho III, Paco Mathay, Ching Paurom, Jose Poe, Carli Recio III, Paolo Sandejas, Jose Sioson, co-captain Troy Sy, Teddy Travis, and Vinnie Vinculado. Assistant coach is Alhassan Mohammedu.

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