The law of averages finally caught up on the Philippines in basketball hostilities in the fifth staging of the Far Eastern Games in 1921 in Shanghai.
China, playing host to the three-nation sports meet for the second time since the Games opened shop in Manila in 1913, ended a long, eight-year exercise in futility by exacting a 30-27 victory in the sport considered as a private domain of the Filipinos, who, until that year, succeeded in protecting their lily-white record.
That reversal though would prove to be the first and only loss the Filipinos would suffer as they would continue running roughshod of the opposition the rest of the way until the triangular conclave would have folded up in 1934 to give way to the much bigger Asian Games.
But what made the setback bitter was it came at a time when the team had gone a massive revamp that, except from old mainstays Jovito Gonzales and Aurelio Buenconsejo, saw outstanding players from the NCAA dominating the line up – prolific shooter Luis “Lou” Salvador, Vicente Avena, Augusto Bautista and Mariano Sangle – among others.
Also beefing up the national five were Joaquin Inigo, Elpidio Jose, Pedro Robles and Emiterio Montelibano.
Avena, Bautista and Buenconsejo, who alternately manned the, likewise, formed the core in defense in the Philippine volleyball squad’s silver medal wind up latdr in the Games.
Despite that defeat in basketball and volleyball and events were the Filipinos were considered weak as football and marathon, the Philippines still managed to cling into the general championship on the strength of their powerful showing in track and field, swimming, baseball and tennis.
Sprinter Fortunato Catalon continued his reign as Asia’s ‘Fastest Man’, ruling for the third straight edition the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes besides anchoring, too, the country’s 4×200 relay to another gold medal win.
First place victories fashioned out by Vicente Lopez in 440-yard run, Ignacio Abad in the 120-yard hurdles, Juan Escamos in 220-yard hurdles, Antonino Alo in pole vault, Simon Santos in long jump and Juan Taduran in decathlon augured well in the Filipino runners, jumpers and throwers’ remaining as kingpins of track and field.
Francisco Danao, anchored anew PH’s 4 x 440-yard relay crown, this time, in a team up with Vicente Malinao. Vicente Lopez and Severino Hipona.
Catalon connived with Eriberto Castillon, Osorio and Emilio Bucoy in defending the 800-yard relay.
Besides leaping to the gold mint in long jump,Santos, likewise, towed teammates Nicolas Machan and Generoso Rivera the silver and bronze medals in the event. In the same way that Lopez teamed up, too, with Malinao and Danao in the gold-silver-bronze medal finishes for the powerhouse Philippine athletics team.
Also finishing in the top three in their respective events were silver medallists Eriberto Castillon in 220-yard dash, Pedro Abiera in 220-yard hurdles, Moises Lucas in shot put, Eduardo Suella in high jump, Carlos Nicolas in discus throw and javelin throw.
Also contributing to the country’s medal harvest were bronze winners Nicolas Machan in 100-yard dash, Abiera I 120-yard hurdles, Pedro Zorilla in high jump, Antonino also in shot put, Moises Nicolas in discus throw and Javelin throw.
Swimmer Sotero Abreu matched Catalon’s three-gold spree in the pool ruling the 50-yard, 100-yard and 200-yard relay, the last while combining talents with Manuel Leyva, A. Mamerto, and Ong Sin Guan (Jack Warner).
Paulino Fernandez swam to a pair of gold medals, topping the 100-yard breaststroke and the 220-yard breaststroke. Ong Sin and Flora Vizconde scooped up a silver medal each in their respective event for swimming’s second consecutive overall titles.
Gil Fargas and Leandro Suarez combined efforts in copping the doubles titles in lawn tennis.
Besides Avena and Bautista, other members of the second-placer volleyball team were Claudio Angbengco, Florencio Artates, Aurelo Buenconsejo, Tomas de Castro, Nicanor Damian, Ramon Nolasco, Eriberto Obial, Leon Reyes, Miguel delos Reyes, Pedro Salameda, Engracio Santos, Arsenio Silva, Dominador Tejada, Luts Torres, Demetrio Valdomar and Pedro Yumul.