HONOLULU (KHON) – One of college basketball’s most astounding upsets is set to make a return, this time on the big screen, thanks to a Hawaii-born film director.
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Back on December 23, 1982, Coach Merv Lopes led the Chaminade University basketball team to a historic victory over the nation’s top-ranked Virginia team, securing a final score of 77 to 72. This remarkable feat etched the Chaminade Silverswords into sports history.
Four decades later, the game is still a hot topic, despite being untelevised. A new documentary is now in the works to recount this monumental moment in Hawaiian history.
Merv Lopes, now 91 years old, expressed his excitement about the project, saying, “Being involved with (former basketball power forward) Ralph Sampson and his team, it was exciting for us.”
Hawaii-born film director Christopher Makato Yogi is spearheading the project, titled “Merv and the Miracles.”
“This documentary has been in development for some time now. Merv and the players are all involved and I was brought on this year as a director to steer the creative ship. What’s important about this story is it’s told from a local perspective. It’s a Hawaii story, a story that I feel could only happen here in a lot of ways. I grew up watching sports, it’s a big part of the culture. So to tell a sports story set here in the ’80s, really is a dream project,” said Yogi.
The documentary will delve into various facets of Coach Merv’s life story, covering his origins, his journey into sports and coaching, as well as the hurdles leading up to that monumental game.
The documentary will also touch on the tragic death of Silverswords player Mark Wells, who was tragically murdered in Kaanapali, Maui, in December 2004.
The case remains unsolved.
“It’s one of the many intriguing angles that the film explores as we follow the players in their post-game lives. Coach Merv remained close to many of these players,” said Yogi.
Recalling his recruitment of Wells from Venice, California, Lopes stated, “I found him at the beach. He was playing basketball, a skinny guy. I asked him, can we get a soda? We sat down and talked for a while. He went to Santa Monica Junior College. I said, ‘Here’s my number. Call me anytime.'”
Lopes expressed his sorrow for the unfortunate events that followed Wells’ life.
On Saturday, October 14, Yogi, Lopes, former basketball players, and the documentary team will host a panel at Entrepreneurs Sandbox in Kakaako at 4 pm, where they will unveil some exclusive clips from the movie.
Yogi invited those interested to visit their website and share their personal stories or experiences related to the game, stating, “We also have a website. If you were at the game, or if you have any stories to share, we’d love to speak to you.”