How to Appreciate Football for Basketball Fans

Photo courtesy of the Clipartbest website.
Photo courtesy of the Clipartbest website.

So, if you are a Basketball fan, a game where scores comes in droves, how do you appreciate Football, which is the exact opposite of Basketball where the scores rarely reaches double figures for both squads?

Well, it’s a matter of perspective. First of all, it helps if you are rooting for a team because then you will be more invested in how they will do. That investment in turn will make the game feel more exciting to watch.
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Basketball Nuthugger-slash-Football Trolls During the Clear Dream Match

Saturday, August 25, 2012 – I started this day anticipating a great day of sports as AKTV was going to show the Clear Dream Football Match at 8:00 pm, followed by the Smart Gilas 2.0 versus Taiwan Team A Basketball game in the ongoing 2012 Jones Cup Tournament afterwards at 10:00 pm.

I have to admit, the Smart Gilas 2.0’s excellent run in the Jones Cup has rekindled my interest in the sport a bit. Its great to see the young guys like Gabe Norwood and Solomon Mercado mature and blossom in the team, leading it to successive victories due to their consistency and passion for the game.

‘Football Trolling in the AKTV Facebook Page’
Missed the first 15 minutes of the Clear Dream Match, but just got in time to watch the first goal of the game by Phil Younghusband off a breakaway. Watch the game until half time, and then finally checked my Facebook account.

I saw that the AKTV Facebook page was posting updates of the Clear Dream Match, and initially I was pleasantly surprised that the posts were getting a good number of comments. However, my initial positive mood moved to DISMAY and finally to ANGER when I found out that most of the posts were from Basketball Nuthugger fans asking AKTV to move on with the game so they can watch the Smart Gilas 2.0 game.

The usual Football Troll remarks were made, like how boring Football was, or how the Azkals were only popular because of their looks. Or how only women and gays watch them play. Or how the Azkals couldn’t even get a title in South East Asia.
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My 2011 PFF Smart Club Championship Diary Part Two

‘Day Three – Saturday, August 13, 2011’
* Leyte Laos FC (9) – Iligan Ba-o Breakers (0)
– Well, the Ba-o Breakers have NOT scored in any of their three games in this PFF Smart Club Quarterfinals. On top of that, they have conceded a total of twenty four goals in three games, averaging eight conceded goals per game.

* NCR Pachanga FC (9) – Baguio Goshenland FC (1)
– The only difference between Baguio Goshenland FC and the Iligan Ba-o Breakers, is the fact that Baguio has at least scored a couple of goals in this tournament, whereas the Breakers haven not.
– Goalscorers: Pachanga – Mario Clarino (21′, 73′, 87′), Alex Obiang (23′, 30′, 67′), Chester Sobremesana (13′), Edward Mallari (38′), Shermar Felongco (84′); Goshenland – Farah Mohamad (26′)

* Iloilo Smart Stallion FC (3) – Davao Columbia FC (0)
– This is a big upset, as I thought Davao was favored over the other teams, having beaten NCR Pachanga FC (1-0), and in turn Pachanga won over the Stallions (2-0). So this is a major upset for the Ilonggos. But its not a surprise for them to score such an upset since they are playing on their home pitch.
– Goalscorers: Ruben Doctora (27′), Lee Joo Young (62′), Jimmy Vergara (90′)

* Rizal San Beda FC (2) – NCR Teknika FC (2)
– Quite an exciting match, as expected between two strong teams, with each team scoring a goal each at each half. San Beda ended up as the chasing team all throughout the match, with Teknika scoring the opening goal before San Beda equalized at the half. Teknika pulled ahead again in the second half, before San Beda equalized again near the end of the game.
– Azkal Misagh Bahadoran finally made his presence felt by scoring his first goal in this quarterfinals.
– Interesting to note also that Teknika’s two usually prolific imports were shut out in this game by San Beda’s defense. Arye and El-Habbib combined for eleven goals in the two games prior to this game.
– Goalscorers: Teknika – Misagh Bahadoran (17′), Aaron Altiche (50′); San Beda – Phil Younghusband (37′), Jeremias Jao (83′)

‘Quarter Finals Wrap Up’
The last day of the Quarterfinals of the Tournament has been quite exciting, with upsets, close, dramatic games, and heartbreaks.
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My 2011 PFF Smart Club Championship Diary Part One

On paper, the two stongest teams of this tournament would undoubtedly be Rizal San Beda FC, and NCR Teknika FC. San Beda because of the presence of the Younghusband brothers’ Phil and James, and also because of their performance in the eliminations, often beating opponents in double digit margins. Teknika, on the other hand, has three Azkals on its roster: Ian Araneta, Chieffy Caligdong and Misagh Bahadoran. On top of that, they also have the prolific import in the UFL, Izo El-Habbib.

My biggest question in this tournament, though, is where the hell is Bacolod? They have not been represented in this tournament, which is a bit strange, as Bacolod is known as the Football Capital of the country. They also won the 2011 PFF Suzuki Cup early this year, so having one of the strongest regions not represented in this tournament is a bit of a travesty.

‘Day One – Tuesday, August 9, 2011’
I woke up expecting extensive coverage of the PFF Smart Interclub Championships which will start TODAY. And yet when I scanned the Manila dailies, NOT A SINGLE ONE of them carried any news about the tournament. Football in the Philippines isn’t going anywhere soon unless our local Football tournaments get as much support as Basketball in the media and among spectators.

The only coverage of the PFF Smart Club Championships came from Sun Star Cebu, and its not even complete. No mention what time the games will commence. Looks like we will have to rely on private groups and individuals for a more extensive coverage of the 2011 PFF Smart National Men’s Club Championships, like the one from the Azkalero website (see “Sources” section below).

* Rizal San Beda FC (6) – Iligan Ba-o Breakers (0)
– San Beda FC continues their routing ways with a solid half a dozen goal trumping of the Ba-o Breakers. James Younghusband scored a Hat Trick, while Phil scored a goal.
– Goalscorers: San Beda – James Younghusband (34′, 49′, 52), Phil Younghusband (73′), Vaughn Melendrez (24′), Eliezer Fabroada (41′)
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2011 UEFA Champions League – ManU vs. Barsa, May 28, 2011

‘First Half’
The game started out fantastically. Right from the opening bell you see that the players were all pumped up with adrenaline with the way they were moving about the pitch. They were moving very quickly and fast, and challenging every possession.

ManU had more attempts in the first fifteen minutes of the game, but eventually Barsa started to settle down, and started to have the more dangerous attempts around the penalty area.

As a result, it was Pedro (Hernandez) who scored the opening goal in the 27th minute from an excellent pass from Xavi. I almost thought it was offside or something, because there was no reaction from the Wembley crowd, for obvious reasons.

It didn’t take long for ManU to equalize, though, when Wayne Rooney scored the equalizer seven minutes later, in the 34th minute from a good pass from what looked like Ryan Giggs.

‘Second Half’
As the game wore on, though, it was becoming obvious that Barsa was the better team, as they dominated the attempts again in and around the penalty area. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before they score again.
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2011 AFC Asian Cup Diary

Below are some of the notes I kept while watching the AFC Asian Cup. I wasn’t able to watch many of the games, because for some reason the channel that I watched it on dropped coverage of the games after only a couple of days. Hence my “diary” is incomplete. However, there is enough stuff in here to cover at least some of the teams which the Azkals might be playing against soon.

Saturday, January 8, 2011
* China beats Kuwait, 2-0
– Latest FIFA rankings (as of Jan. 8, 2011): China 87, Kuwait 102
– Not impressed with either team, I didn’t see anything special with the way they played

Sunday, January 9, 2011
* Japan draws with Jordan, 1-1
– Latest FIFA rankings (as of Jan. 9, 2011): Japan 29, Jordan 104
– Near huge upset by Jordan, scoring first on the 44th minute, until a dramatic equalizer by Japan in injury time (91st minute)
– Japan is very impressive, they play very organized Football. They almost always know where their other teammates are at any given time, hence their offense is very fluid
– Japan retained a vast majority of the possession in the second half, and had one attempt after the other. Frankly, the equalizer in injury time was almost a disappointment, considering the possession and attempts they had. They should’ve won the game, instead of coming up with a draw.
– Kudos to the Jordanians for their very solid defense, though, keeping in step almost everytime the Japanese attacked

* Syria beats Saudia Arabia, 2-1
– Latest FIFA rankings (as of Jan. 9, 2011): Saudi Arabia 81, Syria 107
– These middle eastern teams are not as fluid in their play, but they play very aggressively, they’re very physical, and they are very quick on their feet. Their style of play is exciting to watch
– Despite the big difference in rankings, the match looked to be about even, with both teams having good runs at the goal, and it turning out to be an exciting match
– Just like in the first game, the lesser FIFA ranked team in Syria drew first blood, scoring in the 38th minute. The Saudis played more aggressively in the second half, doubling the number of attempts, finally equalizing in the 59th minute.
– A big surprise, though, as the Syrians were able to get the lead again just two minutes later by scoring another goal. The Saudis tried hard to equalize, and had quite a number of attempts, but all in vain.

Friday, January 18, 2011
* South Korea trounces India, 4-1
– Latest FIFA rankings (as of Jan. 18, 2011): South Korea 32, India 145
– What a mismatch. Sokor had possession almost 90% of the time on the Indian side of the field, and had tons of attempts. Credit the Indian defense for stopping most of the attempts, because if not, the score would’ve much more loopsided
– Indian goalkeeper Subrata Paul had at least 15 saves in the match. Kept shouting himself hoarse, though, all throughout the match, and you could hear it over the audio
– The Sokors really are world-class. Great passing, pinpoint accuracy, coupled with great plays they are a joy to watch. So dangerous when attacking. I can’t wait for the Japan-Sokor showdown, if ever it happens in this tournament.

The Philippines Finally Discovers Football

Unofficial Azkals LogoDecember 2010 is a crazy time for Football in the Philippines, and will be remembered by long time Filipino Football fans as something they thought they would never get to see in their lifetime: When Filipinos finally discovered Football.

And all this thanks to the efforts of the Philippine National Football team, the “Azkals”.

The previous incarnations of the Philippine Football teams were treated as some sort of a joke in South East Asian Football circles, as it used to lose by huge margins. Scores like 4-0, 5-0 were common for the stronger teams when playing against the Philippines.

But all that changed, when the Azkals beat the defending champion Vietnam in the ASEAN Football Federation’s “Suzuki Cup” in December 6, 2010.

The new-found popularity of Football is evidenced by the number of fans that joined the official Facebook page of the Azkals. Before December 6, 2010, there were only about 2.5k fans in there. Two and a half weeks later, it is now at 21k, and counting.

‘Basketball Country’
Most sports observers know that the Philippines is a rabid basketball country. Just look at the Interbasket forums: As of December 16, 2010, the Philippines section had 165k post. The next highest section, the European section, only had 90k post.

However, basketball, as one Sportswriter pointed out, is a sport that does not love the Filipinos back. After a century of playing the sport, only one Filipino got to play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). And that guy was a Fil-Foreigner who never even got to play in Philippines.

Despite giving it their heart and soul, the Philippines have not won the Asian Games or FIBA Asia Championships in over 25 years. On the other hand, countries relatively new to the sport like China and Iran have sent players in the NBA, and has won the Asian Games, or FIBA Asia Championships.
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