Gabe Norwood recalls March Madness experience while seeing UMBC’s whale of an upset over top seed Virginia

Gabe Norwood knows how it feels playing in the March Madness of the NCAA Tournament.

Then playing for the George Mason University in the 2005-06 season, Norwood and his squad was able to reach the Final Four, a milestone for the institution.

“Going to a mid-major like George Mason, just making the NCAA Tournament was an accomplishment in itself. So for us to make our run was awesome. But we had a special group, with the majority of the roster returning from the year before,” Norwood wrote in a text message.

He recalled their Cinderella Run all the way to the Final Four, one of the most significant moments of his playing career.

“We beat Michigan State (then led by Shannon Brown, Paul Davis, Maurice Ager, and North Carolina (Tyler Hansborough and Danny Green, Wichita State, and UConn (Rudy Gay) before eventually losing to the to-be Champs Florida (Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer, and Al Horford),” added Norwood.

His stint in the Final Four served as Norwood’s ticket meal to Philippine basketball. He was the only player fresh from college to be recruited to join the pro-laden Philippine team in 2007, which finished ninth in the FIBA Asia Championship.

Even when he turned pro, Norwood has served the Philippine team more than anybody else as he continued to play a key role in Gilas Pilipinas quest for a return to the world stage.

Until now, Norwood relished the moment of playing in March Madness and he could share the joy experienced by the underdog Maryland-Baltimore County, a 16th seed in the tournament, which pulled off a whale of an upset over top seed Virginia.

A versatile player who can play almost every position in the PBA, Norwood cannot help but be amazed with what he saw with Maryland-Baltimore County.

“Maryland Baltimore-County came out and played loose and enjoyed the moment,” added Norwood.