Why not Beech?
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson () - November 29, 2007 - 12:00am

The Philippine Football Federation (PFF) is honoring several individuals who’ve made their mark in the sport during a gala dinner celebration in the presence of visiting FIFA president Joseph Blatter at the Sofitel Hotel next week.

The awardees are players Paulino Alcantara (pre-war) and Eddie Pacheco (post-war), referee Fernando Alvarez, coach Sy Peng Sam, Lino Castillejo for his volunteer work and former PFF presidents Rene Adad and Johnny Romualdez.

Adad will be cited for his landmark “Go For Goal” program while Romualdez, for his “Kasibulan” or youth project.

Additionally, three legendary teams will be toasted – Nomads, Lions and the Cheng Hua Tigers.

Forgotten in the honor roll is Enrique Beech who has been involved in football for seven decades. Now 87, Beech made his debut as a national player in 1936 and saw action for the Philippine team until he broke his knee in 1950.

Beech was the only Filipino football star chosen for the Asian selection by Chinese legend Lee Wei Tong to play in Europe in 1948. John Cleland, a Britisher who ran the PFF with Chito Calvo at that time, presented Beech with a pair of “Hot Spurs” spikes to wear during the European trip.

“Owning a pair of ‘Hot Spurs’ was a big deal then,” recalled Beech, a Philippine Sports Commission consultant. “The shoes were sent to Cleland from abroad for me as a reward for making the Asian selection. Unfortunately, the team never left. The Korean War broke out and the trip was cancelled. Still, the record will show I was the only Filipino ever chosen for the Asian selection.”

Beech played varsity football for Letran and San Beda then joined Yco and Turba Salvaje which was a national champion for at least six years. In his prime, Beech was considered the country’s best football player who could control the ball with either foot. No less than Ildefonso Tronqued, who was a football luminary as a player, coach and referee, paid tribute to Beech’s ability in controlling the turf.

Beech said the best national team ever to play for the country was Calvo’s squad in 1939 with Rafael Ygoa as goalkeeper, Ling Miranda, Mari Hernandez, Paulino Ugarte, Totit Valles, Rene Nieto, Bulilit Reyes, Emil Heredia, Alberto Larrazabal, Alex Boisserie and himself at left wing.

After suffering his knee injury, Beech shifted to shooting. He would’ve played football at the Asian Games in 1954 but instead, took the bronze in the trap event. Beech also claimed a bronze in shooting at the Asian Games four years later. He wore the national colors twice as a shooter in the Olympics – at Melbourne in 1956 and Rome in 1960.

From shooting, Beech went to golf where he became a super senior champion.

For all his achievements, Beech deserves at least an honorable mention during the gala celebration of football’s 100 years in the country.

* * *

Yesterday’s Filoil/Flying V national collegiate basketball champions league title game brought back memories of the 1957 intercollegiate finals between Ateneo and the University of Visayas at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Ando Hernaez, who suited up for the Blue Eagles in the 1957 contest, said he doesn’t think the two teams ever played each other again for a championship until yesterday’s encounter at the San Juan Arena.

Here’s Ando’s e-mail:

“Playing under the same format as now, UV, who was the Cebu collegiate champion, beat their opponents in their division while Ateneo was then the NCAA champion who also beat their opponents for a showdown.

“The championship game was watched by a predominantly Cebuano crowd. It was a very close game and decided only in the last five minutes when Guillermo Bas sank four straight baskets that gave UV enough cushion to maintain its lead until the final buzzer.

“Among the UV players were Eddie Cabahug, Boy Marquez, Dodong Gullas, Matias Reyes, a certain Mendoza and Bas. The coach was Eddie Gullas, now a congressman from Cebu. Ateneo, coached by Rafael Roco with Fr. James Reuter as athletic moderator, relied on an eight-man rotation composed of Bobby Littaua, Poch Gayoso and Tony Jose as forwards, Cris Arroyo and Lito Carvajal as centers and Ed Ocampo, Jim Pestano and myself as guards.

“Later on, Lancers Marquez and Bas made it to the Olympics. On the Blue Eagles side, though all the players mentioned made it to the Ateneo Hall of Fame, only Ed became an Olympian, three times, equaling the feat of La Salle’s Ramoncito Campos.”

Ando sent his e-mail the day before the Filoil-Flying V finals. Here was his forecast: “It will be Ateneo if they can offset the height advantage of UV by applying the full-court press from the very start. Play fast and try to tire out the opponents. However, if they play to the slower and deliberate style of UV, then it will be a repeat of what happened 50 years ago.”

By the way, Cabahug’s son Boy is now the UV coach.

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