Team White came in full force on Sunday playing a game-long resiliency never before seen from this usually depleted line-up to stop the favored Team Red from advancing outright to the finals of the Mayor Rody and Inday Sara All-Media Basketball Tournament.
The Whites repulsed the rampaging Reds, 93-86, in their now-or-never semis playoffs to breathe life to what seemed like an undermanned campaign. The win forged a winner-take-all match this Sunday for the right to meet Team Black which booked a finals seat later in the day against a fighting Team Green, 78-73.
The troika of Philip Tumaroy, Percy Penoliar and Villarmino combined for 63 points to lead the Whites’ scoring attack while Tata Balasico and Neil Bravo provided the muscle in defense for the rejuvenated Whites who needed to beat the Reds twice to advance.
Rico Biliran exploded for the Reds with 28 markers including 5 triples but his effort went to naught this time as he was shackled in the final canto as he was limited to just two field goals in the homestretch. Jerry Rentucan was also a non-factor in the endgame as he was saddled with fouls early in the third period after Whites forward Corilla baited him on several lane incursions.
Rentucan finished with 20 but had to scamper for all his 9 points in the final period from the line. Another Reds sparkplug Terver “Inday Tanini” Quillano could do no better than a field goal when it mattered and finished with 11 for the game.
“Bad breaks. Sa ilaha gyud to na dula. Bawi na lang mi sa Sunday,” admitted Reds playing coach Dennis Lazo.
In the other semis matchup, the Blacks sealed a seat in the finals with a come-from-behind 78-73 win over the Greens.
The Greens led for most part of the match with the hot-shooting Carl Eric “Idol Dagul” Alindao at the firing end. The Blacks trailed 49-62 early in the final period when Jun Canada suddenly went berserk with a flurry of fastbreaks. Like a man possessed, the fleet-footed Canada strung up 10 straight points to cut the deficit to three, 59-62, 5:17 to go. After Boom Jereos canned two free throws, Canada and Jun Bersamin conspired to drop a 9-1 bomb to finally wrest the upperhand, 68-65, 3:17 left.
Alindao’s free throw tied the match at 68-all, 2:17 remaining, but Jun Digamon and Canada quickly countered with a pair of freebies each to swing the Blacks back to the lead, 72-68. After Michael Coronel and Jereos cut the lead down to one, 73-74, the Blacks had one chance to swing the momentum to their side and turn the game around. Alindao stole off a backdoor play then sprinted back to their side, whipped a pass to a streaking Jon Develos who was fouled on his way up, 24 ticks left.
Develos, who was unusually cold all game long, muffed both free throws and the Blacks sealed the win with Canada streaking down with a layup and Digamon sealing the deal with a pair of charities.
“We went down fighting pero ang sama ng officiating. May chance sana kami but the calls did not go to our side,” said Greens playing coach Andy Rara.
Canada and Bersamin paced the Blacks with 25 points each while Alindao equaled that output for the Greens.
Rara was slapped a technical for excessive complaining in the match marred by a number of questioned calls. The White-Red match was also tainted with bad calls but proverbial cooler heads prevailed in the crucial matches of this tournament sponsored by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Vice Mayor Inday Sara Duterte.
The matches too were not without some comic relief from members of the media who displayed fiery intensity inside the court but quickly switched to friendly mode right after. Bombo Radyo’s Dennis Lazo of the Reds posed for the camera before shooting free throws while photographer Junnex Chua of the Whites entered the game right after shooting photos from the baseline. MOR jock Big Joe of the Greens sported a “takyan” hairstyle while the Blacks’ Alfred Saguran of Radyo Rapido came to the match wearing high-cut boxing shoes. (NJB—City Sports)