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06-29-2007, 10:21 AM
Dribbling feat lands Filipino in Guinness


By Jasmine W. Payo
Inquirer
Last updated 04:03am (Mla time) 06/29/2007


MANILA, Philippines -- Erwin Evangelista, at 5 feet 4, knew he would get nowhere near a basketball career.

So the 22-year-old finds it amusing that he is now ranked among the world’s basketball best after pulling off an extraordinary feat that required more than just height and brawn.

Evangelista endured 45 hours and 22 minutes of dribbling a basketball during a nationwide contest and recently landed in the Guinness World Records.

“I never thought I could win,” Evangelista said in Filipino. “There were varsity players and I think the other participants had the advantage. Maybe I just had better stamina.”

Evangelista eclipsed the previous world record of 26 hours and 40 minutes set by African-American Joseph Odhiambo by nearly 20 hours during the Guinness Dribbling Challenge held Oct. 28-30 last year at the Pasay City Sports Complex.

Guinness -- the internationally recognized chronicler of record-breaking achievements -- appraised the feat in its London office after the Philippines submitted the required documentation.

Six months later, Guinness honored Evangelista with a certificate citing him as the new record holder for the longest dribbling period.

Evangelista confessed, however, that securing a spot in the world basketball annals was hardly his motivation.

As a working student, he had a more pragmatic purpose in the challenge that pitted over 100 young Filipinos from Manila, Cebu, Dagupan and Davao.

“My only goal was to get the scholarship (prize),” said Evangelista, who used to flip burgers in a fast-food joint in between his criminology studies in a computer school. “So even if I just finished fifth, I thought it would be okay.”

Evangelista’s father, Romy, also reminded him during the contest that the P500,000 cash prize would help fix their home in Libis, Quezon City that had only a tarpaulin for a roof since a fire razed their neighborhood three years ago.

“I came to watch him when there were just 10 of them,” said Romy, a 53-year-old electrician. “It was a Monday and I didn’t go to work. I gave him moral support and reminded him about our house so that he’d be motivated to win.”

Unlike the previous record holder who tapped the help of nutritionists and other sport experts, Evangelista came in with no preparation.

“Tambay lang talaga ako sa (I’m just a bum in the) basketball court and we were only invited to join (by contest scouts),” he said

As a strategy, Evangelista opted not to take the allowed five-minute break per hour. He dribbled for eight straight hours starting Saturday afternoon, then took an accumulated 40-minute rest during the first day of competition.

“But I still didn’t get to sleep,” he said. “I just rested and stretched. The next day, I only rested for 20 minutes or only if I have to go to the bathroom.”

When 55 contestants reached the 26-hour mark, some of Evangelista’s friends felt satisfied in beating the world record.

“They took a break and never came back,” said Evangelista, who plays as a point guard in barangay (village) leagues. “I was also tired, but I wanted to continue.”

When the medical team advised him to stop since he looked pale, Evangelista insisted he only felt a little fatigued.

And even as the lone contestant left standing, Evangelista refused to stop and dribbled for 30 minutes more. “I was targeting 48 hours,” he noted. “I knew I can still do it.”

As the sure winner of the event, the medical team though persuaded him to finally stop. Proving that he’s still in fine form, Evangelista only asked for a drink after the contest.

Evangelista had since then built a new home for his parents and four siblings. He had also shifted to a computer engineering course in a better school.

Still, Evangelista couldn’t get over the fact that he had made a career out of basketball after all.