Know Your History: The 1973 ABC win of PH using an All-Filipino cast

Tembong Melencio's defense of Korean ace Shin Dong Pa was a huge factor in PH's title success against the Sokors.
Tembong Melencio’s defense of Korean ace Shin Dong Pa was a huge factor in PH’s title success against the Sokors.

by Henry Liao

Fifty years ago on December 15, an all-homegrown Philippine team whipped South Korea, 90-78, before a boisterous crowd of over 8,000 hometown fans at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum to capture the 1973 Asian Basketball Confederation (now known as the FIBA Asia Cup) title with a lily-white 10-0 record in the 12-team tournament cast.

Bannered by Shin Dong Pa, the erstwhile unblemished Sokors enjoyed a lead of as much as 10 points in the early goings, before the Filipinos forced a 48-all deadlock at halftime despite Shin’s 20 markers.

Manny Paner makes life hard for Sokor Kwak
Manny Paner makes life hard for Sokor Kwak

In the second half, our boys tightened their defense, with Rogelio (Tembong) Melencio’s leech-like guarding of Shin limiting the latter to just eight more points.

The Koreans, which basically played with just eight men, lost their composure after a series of rugged plays and the Filipinos capitalized with fastbreak points built around the stamina they developed under Spanish training coach Juan Cutillas, whose forte was really the sport soccer (now known as football).

Team skipper Jimmy Mariano was one of six double-figure scorers on the Philippine team.
Team skipper Jimmy Mariano was one of six double-figure scorers on the Philippine team.

William Adornado topped the Philippines in scoring (second-best 21.2 ppg behind tournament leader Shin’s 27.9 ppg) and earned the tournament’s MVP award, an honor that also went to Carlos Badion in the inaugural staging of the event in 1960 in Manila.

The other double-digit scorers for the Philippines were team skipper Jaime (Jimmy) Mariano (13.3 ppg), a young Ramon Fernandez (10.6), Robert Jaworski (10.5), Francis Arnaiz (10.3) and Manny Paner (10 ppg – he sat out one game but exploded for 24 points in the game against South Korea).

Henry Liao
Latest posts by Henry Liao (see all)

Join the discussion