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Jaguars relish rare moment playing basketball in China

The USJ-R Jaguars led by coach Jun Noel (second from left) pose for posterity after placing third in the 3rd Xiamen International University Basketball Tournament last October 31 to November 4  at the Xiamen University stadium in China.

CEBU, Philippines — Playing basketball for the first time on foreign shores was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) Jaguars that did only boost their self-confidence but also broaden their horizon as athletes.

Led by coach Jun Noel, the Jaguars are set to return to Cebu today after a successful stint in the 3rd Xiamen International University Basketball Tournament last October 31 to November 4  at the Xiamen University stadium in China.

Donning the Philippine colors, they placed third overall behind Hong Kong and host China.

More than representing the country well in the six-day joust, the Jaguars took pride for the golden moments they had on the international stage.

"It's a different kind of experience playing against foreign opponents because they are  tall and good shooters as well," said Jaybie Mantilla, the reigning MVP of the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI). "Playing in an international league was a great opportunity for us. We're very fortunate to enjoy such once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Mantilla's teammates shared his sentiments.

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"They have a different brand of basketball. Though they're not physical, in which we are used to back in Cebu, we need to make a lot of adjustments because they are bigger and taller than us," said USJ-R forward Nelvin Navarra, a licensed electrical engineer.

"We're so happy and at the same time thankful for such a wonderful experience.Going up against bigger and stronger opponents boosted our confidence," said Tricky Dyn Peromingan.

"It feels good to be given such kind of opportunity. Representing the country in an international competition gives you an utmost sense of pride," added Peromingan. "It was a great exposure that will surely help our team in the future."

For fighting well for the flag and country against all odds, coach Noel has nothing but words of praise for his wards.

"Team exposure wise, it was very excellent. The players fought very hard up to the end. They are warriors. They were down, but stood up and fight 'til the end of the game despite the height advantage of their opponents," said Noel. (FREEMAN)

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