Korea Tigers hand Pilipinas Aguilas 3rd straight loss

MANILA, Philippines – National Tackle Football Team Pilipinas Aguilas, wowed the home crowd but fell short in the hands of visiting Korean Tigers, 38-33 in the 1st ever Phil-Kor Football Cup held on Saturday, February 28 at the  Emperador Stadium, McKinley Hill in Taguig City.

Seong Min Joo says good bye to an Aguilas Defender
Seong Min Joo says good bye to an Aguilas Defender

For the third time in a year, the Nationals suffered another heart-breaking loss in an international match.

April last year when the Aguilas tried their luck to make an upset victory over world ranked 2 team Japan but got blown out 86-0. Determined to improve and level-up their game, the American Tackle Football Association of the Philippines (ATFAP) under the leadership of Chairman Apollo Anco and Arena Ball Philippines (ABP) President Bernardo “Dodi” Palma, invited and hosted Western Australia Raiders. The latter humiliated the Aguilas 56-7.

Aguilas American Head Coach John Walker had 3 weeks to re-assemble his squad, selecting best individuals from all 6 ABP teams right after the league’s closing ceremony. While his counterpart, Canadian Coach Lawrence Bowlby honed his cubs for years to be fast and furious Tigers and to be one of Korea’s top Tackle Football Clubs.

With the mindset of avenging their two painful defeats, the Aguilas looked so focus and sharp and ready to give the Tigers a serious beating that they will never forget.

Aguilas walk-off with Pride and Honor for the Flag
Aguilas walk-off with Pride and Honor for the Flag

The visitors won the coin toss and opted to receive the football. Tigers Running Back, Eun Pyo Lee carried the ball for a first down followed by another run play which positioned them in the mid-field. Tigers Quarter Back, Gi Seop Yoon drew the first blood by running for 15 yards straight to the end-zone for the 1st Touchdown of the game in less than 2 minutes of the opening salvo and made their 2-point conversion attempt to lead the Aguilas 8-0.

The Nationals looked so disorganized and nervous in their 1st drive where their run plays were consistently broken by the Korean defenders and Defensive End Young Joo Won sacked Aguilas Quarter Back Mike Hoese to pressure Coach John Walker to call a cease fire. Nationals Punter and Kicker DJ Mello faked a punt and ran the ball across mid-field for a 1st down. Mike Hoese easily located his Running Back Johnny Babaran for a Touchdown plus DJ Mello’s bonus field-goal kick to place them on the scoreboard 8-7.

After Babaran’s Touch Down, Pilipinas felt the adrenaline rush to score more and double their lead. Quarter Back Mike Hoese threw a bomb to Croatian Wide Receiver Ivan Klaric for their 2nd Touchdown of the opening quarter. Running Back Johnny Babaran left his defenders flat-footed to record his 2nd Touch Down, 3rd for the Nationals with 7:43 remaining in the 2nd quarter and Aguilas were up 20-8.

Running Back Johnny Babaran of Pilipinas Aguilas passes through three Tigers for a Touchdown
Running Back Johnny Babaran of Pilipinas Aguilas passes through three Tigers for a Touchdown

Before the 2 minute warning of the first half, Tigers Running Back Seong Min Joo dashed for 50-yard plus and once again went for 2-point conversion to close the gap 20-16. DJ Mello successfully delivered a 3-point field goal kick to end the first half 23-16.

Come 3rd Quarter, the home team continued to score with DJ Mello’s another 3-point field goal kick to make a 26-16 comfortable Aguilas lead.

The Aguilas Defense led by Team Captain, Defensive Line Man JP Suarez and Castri Cabatay made the lives of the Korean Offensive Team miserable and seriously injuring at least 2 Tigers until mid of the 3rd Quarter.

Enough is enough, Coach Lawrence Bowlby said to his wards. Running Back Seong Joon Lee responded to his Coach’s call and made another run play touch down but they failed to convert their 2-point bonus play. Tigers were slowly chasing the Aguilas after Seong Joon Lee scored, 26-22.

The Aguilas had their chance to score one more time before ending the penultimate quarter but Kick-returner Nick Flowers was pursued by Tigers Special Team and tackled on their 1 yard line which created problems for the Aguilas Offensive to move the ball forward.

That last touchdown of Korea turned the tides in favor of the Tigers entering to the final quarter.

Both teams kept the 700 plus fans jumping off their seats with a thrilling seesaw battle in the fourth quarter.

Seong Joon Lee with another run play touchdown plus 2-point conversion gave back the lead to the Tigers 30-26. Emilio Lim of team Aguilas answered back by actching a long pass the corner right from Mike Hoese regaining the lead 33-30 with 6:21 remaining in the fourth canto. The longest run touchdown of the game came from Tiger Seong Min Joo, running straight right for 70 yards plus a 2-point conversion sealing the win 38-33.

Aguilas Quarter Back Mike Hoese throws a long bomb
Aguilas Quarter Back Mike Hoese throws a long bomb

The Nationals had a chance to win the ball game with 2 more minutes remaining but Aguilas Quarter Back, Mike Hoese threw a medium range pass but 4-inch short for a first down. Tigers Quarter Back Gi Seop Yoon kneeled the football and melted the clock with 1:31 remaining until the horn sounded.

Victory in defeat.

It was really a heart-breaking loss for the Pilipinas Aguilas and in-fact they almost won this one. But no excuses, Korea Tigers is the better team and handed the Aguilas their third loss within a year.

No doubt, our National Team is slowly getting better. It is really amazing to know that they scored 33 points in an international match. If only they had trained for at least couple of months, they will surely send these young boys to Korea with their heads faced-down.

Congratulations to Team Korea Tigers for winning the first ever Phil-Kor American Football Cup!

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