The traveling Korean Tigers, many of whom paid for their trip and accommodations held off a determined Philippines national team at Emperador Stadiuim in McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City Manila to win 38-33.
Despite being such a young program, the Pilpinas Aguilas – the Philippine national team – acquitted themselves well Saturday against a much more experienced Korean squad.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the first quarter on a 20 yard run to silence the predominantly Aguilas crowd. But Pilipinas answered as running back Johnny Babaran scored from 15 yards out to close the gap to one 8-7.
Aguilas team captain Ivan Klaric added a touchdown on a 20 yard reception from quarterbak Mike Hoese to give the Philippines a 14-8 lead.
Korea, feeling the heat and pressure in the first half had no answer for Babaran who scored his second touchdown of the day on a 40 yard scamper in the second quarter. But the Tigers responded with a touchdown of their own to trim the lead to 20-16. Philippine kicker DJ Mello ended the first half with a 25 yard field goal and the Aguilas took a 23-16 lead into the break.
The Tigers’ half time adjustments paid off as they scored twice on the ground early in the second half to retake the lead 30-26. However, Babaran’s rushing opened up the passing attack and wide receiver Emilio Lim snagged a 30 yard touchdown pass giving the Aguilas the lead again 33-30.
Korea was not done as they regained the lead themselves on a 50 yard touchdown run and with the two-point conversion jumped out to a 38-33. The Tigers then held off the Aguilas’ last desperate drive to seal the win.