ASSUMPTION Montessori School (AMS) Jaguars emerged as back-to-back regional champions after besting the Valencia leg champion, 86-79 in the SM NBTC Northern Mindanao Leg final on Sunday at the St. Michael’s Gymnasium in Iligan City.
Milo Janao Jr. fired 31 points to lead Assumption, while Morhe Rey and Josua Mantalaba gave 13 and 11 markers, respectively.
The AMS Jaguars of coach James Racines, the grand slam champions in the Cagayan de Oro leg eliminations, found hard to crack the much taller Valencia champion in the first half and were even down by 12 at the end of the second quarter, 32-44.
But, experience prevailed in Jaguars’ winning cause as they showed Valencia the heart of a champion.
Racines’ wards unleashed their might, racing to a 30-10 run to pull an 18-point lead in the third quarter, 72-54.
Valencia had no answer to Assumption’s tight defense as the Jaguars went aggressive in both full-court and half-court pressure defense.
“Dapat mo-apply kami og pressure sa defense both full-court ug half-court kay tag-as kaayo ang Valencia,” Racines said.
Valencia tried to claw back to the game, but could only came close by seven as Assumption had everything under control.
“Na-appreciate namo ang Valencia. But at the end, experience proved significant sa among bando,” said Racines.
Earlier, the Jaguars absorbed an upset loss at the hands of Surigao that ensued a three-way tie in their bracket along with Butuan that handed Surigao of its lone defeat but lost to Assumption.
The three of them finished with a win and a loss each, but later it was the Jaguars who prevailed via higher tiebreak points over Butuan and Surigao.
The win allows the Jaguars to defend their NBTC division II national title this year.