The group stage round robins were a good opportunity to size up our opponents. We lost to St. Thomas in the opener, although we gave them a surprisingly good game. Then we thrillingly and narrowly beat St. Matthew in the second, after which perennial champions St. Raphael ran riot over us in the third and final round robin game.
Then it was onto the knockout stages. We were paired with St. Gabriel in the quarter-finals and amazingly managed to beat them (although I felt we were slightly indebted to a trigger-happy referee with St. Joseph loyalties, ahem – let me just say this: I know we were the victim of some not-quite-so-neutral refereeing in the past, but two wrongs don’t make a right, and although of course we are very grateful to the too few referees who have the ability and the dedication to oversee games, we must try to have a better system in place…!).
So it was onto the final four, where we met St. Raphael again, having lost badly to them in the round robin. This time we led them for much of the game, with special mention to Jiwon who marked their star player Justina (who also happens to be my niece, but no time for family loyalties when parishes are pitted against each other!) out of the game, but with their deeper squad numbers and deeper abilities, St. Raphael dug deep and turned it around at the very end of the game.
It may have been disappointing, but it was a thrilling way to go out, and we offered genuine congratulations to St. Raphael who went onto win the tournament. No shame in losing to the eventual winners, and we made a very good show of ourselves, even with our smaller numbers and barely non-existent support.
Thank you once again to all those that helped out, our parents, volunteers, leaders, of course our players, and finally to our coach Raymond Yoo for always being inspiring and fair and a great leader.