The heat was intense, almost cruel. Spectators, including myself, settled at the bleachers. Our brilliant strategy against the summer sun screams: “… then we will WATCH in the shade!”
As I pour tons of precious sunblock on my exposed skin, I look at the seven, green warriors beside me. Russ the Captain seems dazed; Bokie looks relaxed and eager to play; Carlson is smiling and checking out girls’ butts (my guess is that they’re correlated); Pia is chatty as usual, Jo is exploding with energy and inspiration (thanks to the presence of her supportive family, or could it be because of the new phone?); Dave is chatting with Flo; and Chris, the last minute on-call player, is sleeping.
I wonder what’s going on in their heads. Fighting sunstroke is one thing to worry about; the heavy competition under a no-substitution rule is a whole different matter. I seriously think these guys are nuts.
WTF is Savage?
The word “savage” in Ultimate implies the type of game wherein a team can only field seven players for an entire game, the length of which is 30 minutes. Normally, a team’s roster has nine players, but only seven can play in a whole game. The other players can play savage the next game. However, during last Sunday’s ION Savage Ultimate Tournament ’07 at the Alabang Country Club, the word “savage” was stretched to the limit. A team can only register seven players who will play five to six games, no subs, the whole day. Again, I seriously think these players are nuts.
The Savagery Begins
Six teams registered under the Open Mix Division (TODA, Cocoy’s Thunders From Down Under, Donald’s PULA Team, Askalz, Disc Devils, and Breakfast Club), while there were five teams registered for the Intercollegiate Division (Olym PIA, UP-A, UP-B, Disc Devils B, and Xavier). The teams arrived at 8am, and were entertained by hotness hosts, Mikee Evers and Will Devaughn (the guy in the McDo rice burger commercial), while ION organizers busy themselves scheduling of games.
At 10am, the tourney started. Armed with a borrowed digicam with zooming features intended for stalking purposes, and not for action photography, I eagerly watched TODA’s first fight against Cocoy’s Thunder from Down Under (Alabangers). The bleachers were occupied by screaming TODA fans, which comprises of me, Tisha, the whole BC team, and Jo’s family (who claps and screams every time Jo catches or successfully passes a disc). It was super riot – we were cheering for TODA at the top of our lungs while completely oblivious to the fact that our voices were echoing and being transmitted from the nearby sound system for everyone to hear. Whoops, sorry po! We couldn’t help it, eh. *hic* “One more shot, please, Mamu.”
On the second half, Cocoy’s Thunder started picking up their game, while Toda continued on with their good offense flow. It was a close fight! Mamu and Flo started gulping Ion mixed with Ginebra, grumbling every time the Alabangers score. Unfortunately, Cocoy’s Thunder gained enough momentum to win the game, but TODA went out the field in good spirit knowing they played one of their best savage games ever.
The smooth and impressive play of Team TODA continued to their next game against BFF (Best Friends Forever) Team, the Breakfast Club. It was sheer fun watching these two teams play savage. Competitive-but-friendly-to-boot was the kind of game played. TODA was BC’s first fight, but apparently, their fresh legs worked to TODA’s advantage since the green machines were already warmed up and running full speed. Add to this, TODA’s offense flow were still smooth as silk. They worked the disc to the endzone with short-but-sweet passes. Good cuts, minimal drops, and mean Ds. Believe it or not, Mikee Evers was following TODA’s games and even announced on the microphone: “Oh, the green team is playing here on Field 1, Will. You know, I’ve noticed that TODA (pronounced as “Towdah”) is really good, and their fights are usually intense!”
After winning against BC, the physically depleted TODA players went back to the bleachers to refresh. A few minutes after, Mikee Evers climbed up, approached Russell (to Bok’s obvious dismay) and interviewed him. Hoots from the crowd drowned Russell’s reply – so yeah, we don’t really know how he answered Mikee Evers’ questions. As soon as she left, Chris Ng started teasing Russell about Mikee, to which Russell’s simple reply was, “Wala syang pag-asa sa akin!” Yabang! Tamaan ka sana ng kidlat! Ka-baaaam! Joke, Russy!
Aside from the free flowing supply of water, ice, plastic cups, and ION Energy Drinks, lunch was also served: Brothers Burger with fries and iced green tea for the players, unlimited ION Energy Drinks for the onlookers. Boo! The sugar rush gave me migraine. After lunch time, I went to Rico’s car to rest, watching TODA’s game against Askalz from afar. Using the same “open space, safe throws of dump and forward pass” strategy used against BC, TODA beat Askalz 9-2 . Astig noh?!
The team played one and a half more games after the Askalz game. They played versus Donald’s PULA Team. Even though the team lost, 8-2, they gave Donald’s team some hell of a great fight! Their last (and “a half”) game was against Disc Devils. They played a light 6-on-6 game, since Devils already has a sure seat at the championship stake (against Donald’s team), while TODA, although still itchy to play, was spirited enough to let Devils save their energy for the upcoming finals game. After 15 minutes of scrimmage, Capt. Russell called off the game, and TODA wished the Devils good luck.
Hats Off to TODA!
Deeply impressed over TODA’s performance that day, I tried to analyze what could be the things they were doing right. For one, almost all players in the team know how it is to be a “handler,” and therefore, know the right areas to cut in order to make Dave’s and Boks’s (their primary handlers) lives easier. Everybody, except for the designated long, Chris, were also cutting towards the handler instead of running towards the endzone. Although this made each point challenging to earn, it reduced the risks involved, especially since most of the players in other teams were tall and experienced endzone hustlers. I’m sure there were other reasons for the great play day, but then again, this kikay spectator isn’t much of a pro disc player. So I’ll leave the insiders’ testimonies to Russell, Bok, Jo, Pia, Dave, Chris, and Carlson.
We ended the day all tired and drained. Hey, Tish and I didn’t play, but it wasn’t easy being photographers and lone cheerers for the team, (damn you, Papi!) especially since we had to double our yells and cheers with that awesome display of teamwork and disc skills shown by TODA. After seeing them, and the other savage teams, play – I change my mind. I don’t think they’re nuts at all. I think they rock!!!
Congratulations to the Champions!
UP-A for intercollegiate division
PULA for the open mix division
Salute to the runner ups for putting up an awesome fight!
To hell with cramps, nose bleeds, heat stroke, and hella-huge blisters! Awoo!