Bangsamoro team defeats PBA legends in ‘solidarity match’ PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 14 April 2014 11:25

Hassan Aburamya, who is of Moro-Kuwaiti descent, and his ethnic Teduray teammate, Andy Amando, never thought they can defeat the living legends in the Philippine Basketball Association that came to the province Saturday night for a “solidarity match” with a newly-formed Bangsamoro team.

Organized by the provincial government of Maguindanao, the basketball game between the 18-member “tri-people” Bangsamoro team, comprised of Moro, Christian and lumad athletes, and the PBA veterans, led by coach Fortunato “Atoy” Co, was meant to show that there is fragile peace now in the province as a result of the continuing peace overture between Malacañang and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Aburamya and Amando were among the Bangsamoro players that scored good enough in the game.

“We were overjoyed by our victory. This is a very historic feat,” a Bangsamoro player, Naj’m Juanday, whose clan in Maguindanao’s Northern Kabuntalan town is identified with the MILF, told reporters.

Co and members of his team, among them Kenneth Duremdes, Nelson Asaytono, Bonel Balingit, Marlowe Aquino, Paul Alvarez, Val David, Rodney Hawkins, Zaldy Realubit, and Jerry Codeñera, were accompanied to Buluan town by officials of South Cotabato province and Koronadal City, which are both outside of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Co said he was delighted to see how a team of culturally and spiritually diverse Moro, Christian and indigenous lumad athletes in Maguindanao exemplified teamwork and resilience that made them win in the solidarity match.

“We would not be coming over to play here if we doubted our very own safety in this part of Maguindanao. We know it’s safe here and we will be protected by the governor,” Co said, referring to

Maguindanao’s provincial chief executive, Esmael Mangudadatu.

More than 5,000 tri-people from across Maguindanao watched the game at the municipal gymnasium of Buluan, seat of the provincial government, and was a “no man’s land” at the height of the Moro rebellion in the 1970s.

A big number of the spectators that watched the Bangsamoro team and the PBA legends play even cheered for the latter, expecting them to win a clean sweep.

“Ang sa amin lang naman sana eh `win or lose’ eh maipapakita naming may kapayapaan na sa Maguindanao, na safe ng pumunta rito ang mga kapatid namin sa Luzon, Visayas at Metro Manila, bilang resulta ng peace process,” Mangudadatu said.

The Maguindanao tri-people team, originally known as Maguindanao Youth for Peace, scored 89 points as against the 81 points of the PBA veterans.

The PBA legends’ lost to the Maguindanao tri-people team, whose coach, the 29 year-old Henry Halid Rogong, is of mixed Maranaw-Tagalog parentage, should be chronicled as an added chapter to the history of the Mindanao peace process, according to Mangudadatu.

Rogong said he is certain their solidarity game with the PBA veterans which they have won will create the impression that there are athletes in the Bangsamoro homeland that can also fare well with those in more advanced cities and provinces.

“This victory is a good showcase of how good our athletes here can be if only given a good break,” Rogong said.

An emotional Mangudadatu said what was so fascinating for him was that their team was comprised of children of MILF rebels, policemen, soldiers, and the reclusive tribal Tedurays in the adjoining North Upi and South Upi towns.

Co and Alvarez, in a press conference following the solidarity match, both called on Maguindanao’s basketball enthusiasts to practice well for them to excel.

“Kailangang mag-ensayo ng mabuti para lumaki ang kanilang mga katawan, para bumilis ang pag-takbo at para tumaas ang lundag. Ganun po ako noong bago pa lang akong naglalaro ng basketball,” Alvarez said.

Co said the teamwork and cooperation exemplified by members of the Maguindanao tri-people team was a proof that the Muslim, Christian and lumad communities in the province can peacefully co-exist and work together in addressing community issues and concerns as one big family.

“We can convert this kind of teamwork and cooperation into something very positive,” he said.

Co said respect among Maguindanao’s Muslim, Christian and lumad folks is also an important factor that can help foster lasting peace in the province.