Director Christopher Makoto Yogi in a 2021 interview. Director Christopher Makoto Yogi in a 2021 interview. (Sundance Institute on YouTube.)

There’s another notable sports documentary coming, and this one’s on one of the most famous college basketball games. Merv and the Miracles, from Partizan and RTG Features, now has a director attached for that film. It looks at the then-NAIA Chaminade Silverswords knocking off the then-top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers and their future Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Ralph Sampson in December 1982.

Newly-announced director Christopher Makoto Yogi, a Honolulu native, is particularly known for his 2021 film I Was A Simple Man, which was shot entirely in Hawai’i and premiered at Sundance in 2021. His other projects include August At Akiko’s, also shot in Hawai’i, from 2018.

That Chaminade win in 1982 also led to the establishment of the Maui Invitational tournament in 1984. And it’s led to many other impacts down the years. Here’s more on this particular project:

On December 23, 1982, Coach Merv Lopes and the Hawai‘i-based Chaminade Silverswords (a tiny then NAIA college in Honolulu with only 800 students and without their own gym or locker room) shocked the world when they defeated the nation’s top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers and future Hall of Famer Ralph Sampson. The game has become known as the “Greatest Upset Never Seen” as it was not broadcast on TV. Featuring never-before-seen archival footage along with present-day interviews and vérité, the film centers on Coach Lopes and his players, their opponents, and those lucky enough to be in the crowd that night, retelling one of the greatest “David vs. Goliath” games in sports history.

The Maui Invitational, an annual early-season college basketball tournament that takes place at the Lahaina Civic Center on the island of Maui, was founded as a lasting legacy of this game in 1984. This November, the tournament will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a powerhouse field that includes Kansas, Purdue, Gonzaga, Tennessee, Marquette, UCLA, Syracuse, and Division II Chaminade, and a special purpose of raising awareness and funds for the ongoing Maui wildfire relief efforts.

“I am elated to be working with Partizan and RTG Features to bring this legendary and inspiring homegrown Hawai‘i story to the world,” said Yogi. “Beyond this epic game, Coach Lopes and his players have lived fascinating lives, and I look forward to a rich exploration in this documentary of spirit, memory and the stories we tell.”

We’ll see how this project progresses and where it winds up.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.