Members of the celebrated Northern Consolidated Cement basketball squad that took on the world’s finest during the 1980s got reunited after 37 years during a dinner Thursday hosted by the team’s top gunner Chip Engelland.
In town as part of the United States team in the FIBA World Cup, Engelland was joined by Allan Caidic, Hector Calma and Jerry Codiñera, members of the Philippine Basketball Association’s 40 Greats Players, alongside Franz Pumaren, Jong Uichico, Tonichi Yturri, Elmer Reyes, Peter Aguilar and Jeff Moore, who also flew in to attend the cagefest as a special guest.
Of course, Samboy Lim, NCC’s local main man, could not attend given his medical condition while Dennis Still, another naturalized player, could not make it as well.
The affair oozed with camaraderie since the last time most of them saw each other was after the country ruled the 1985-1986 Asian Basketball Confederation in Malaysia.
Interestingly, Engelland, who serves as a shooting coach for the Americans, was not on the team owing to eligibility issues but Still and Moore were there to help the Ron Jacobs-mentored squad bag the crown.
“It was fun,” Uichico, an assistant Gilas Pilipinas coach, said in a Viber message.
Codiñera, one of the youngest players, enjoyed every minute of the gathering.
“We had a blast,” Codiñera, a University of the East standout like Caidic, said.
“We didn’t see Chip and Jeff for a long time,” he added.
This fabled team, whose expenses were shouldered by the late basketball patron Danding Cojuangco, toured the world in the mid-80s, tangling with many of Europe and South America’s best and even beat a stacked US team during the 1985 Jones Cup.
During the 1985 World Interclub in Spain, the Philippines, representing NCC, faced Drazen Petrovic and Cibona, Monte Libano of Brazil, The Golden Eagles of the US and Banco di Roma of Italy.
NCC suffered a 111-86 loss to Cibona, dropped an 81-73 decision to the Americans and bowed to Monte Libano, 78-77.
But before exiting the tournament, NCC whipped the Italian entry, 98-79, with Lim lighting up the scoreboard.
NCC went on to finish seventh overall in the ten-team cast, ahead of Banco di Roma, Guantanamo of Cuba and Maxaquene of Mozambique.
FC Barcelona went on to win the title by downing Monte Libano. Third place went to Cibona while San Andres of Argentina, Limoges of France and the Golden Eagles rounded up fourth to sixth spots.
The Philippines was supposed to represent Asia together with South Korea and China in the 1986 world championships (now FIBA World Cup) in Spain but the EDSA Revolt prompted the disbandment of the team.
“After 37 years, we were (finally) together (again),” Codiñera said.