Paner, SMC Braves stun favored Japanese team in 1973 basketball exhibition showdown

Back on February 17, 1973, the Japanese national team visited the Philippines to play a series of exhibition matches.

Considering the Japan squad was led by the Munich Olympics and world championship veterans such as Masatomo Taniguchi and Nobuo Chigusa, local teams were hardly given a chance against the favored visitors.

Manny Paner [screen capture from The Freeman]
Manny Paner [screen capture from The Freeman]
However, that was not the case in their first assignment as the visitors bowed to the San Miguel Corporation Braves, 69-50, before a crowd of about 9,000 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

“Suerte lang,” Brewer coach Ning Ramos, the same guy who led the PH team that beat Japan and placed 13th in the Munich Olympics said after the game.

How did smaller SMC foil Japan?

The Braves played zone against their Japanese counterparts in the low-scoring contest. The Filipinos jumped to a 4-0 lead and stretched that to eight. Japan tried to get back into the game, an effort weathered by the Philippines to hang on to a slim 35-34 lead at halftime.

However, the Japanese found the Filipinos tough to crack in the second half. They scored only 16 points in total with 6-foot-8 Hirobumi Numata scoring Japan’s last field goal. The visitors went scoreless in the last four minutes of that game.

“Perhaps, the first game jitter bugged them. Or they are still adjusting,” Ramos said.

Starring for the Braves was Manuel Paner who proved unstoppable off both boards. He led the SMC scoring parade with 14 points along with 9 rebounds.

Local players made life tougher for their bigger Japanese counterparts, on the defensive end, stealing the ball 11 times. Rosalio “Yoyong” Martirez accounted for three heists in that game.

Aside from Paner and Martirez, who finished with 6 points, youth players Norberto Rivera and Ramon Fernandez also did their share by chipping in 6 points each.

Ernesto Estrada finished with 10 points while Rolando Marcelo and Richard Palou chipped in 8 and 6 points respectively.

Taniguchi led the losing cause of Japan with 17 points while Mineo Yoshikawa had 8 markers.

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