Team A bags Ayala caging title

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Saturday, January 25, 2014


MISSING the services of key players did not affect Team A as it hammered a thrilling 89-85 double overtime win over Team C and swept the best-of-3 final series to earn its second title in three conferences of the Ayala Basketball Club at the Ayala North Point.

Both teams were equally matched staging eight lead changes at the latter part of regulation up to the second overtime.

Team A, behind spitfire Brod Hojilla and eventual MVP Philip Abong, took control of the first quarter with fastbreak points and inside incursions, as the duo combined for 16 points for a 20-15 lead.

Team C rallied behind Talisay Vice Mayor Nilo Lizares’ inside presence. A’s Xavier Vinco, however, showed why he is one of the best blockers in the league by stifling attempts down low and converting much needed baskets for a 33-27 halftime lead.

C bounced back in the third as Marvin Tan hit on two of his five three-pointers and Lizares bullied his way down low taking the lead momentarily before Tad Caperonce of A poured in six points to tie the game at 47-all going into the final quarter.

Team A started to celebrate early after Dominic Hojilla made three consecutive triples for a nine-point lead but Tan and Jake de la Paz answered back with three of their own beyond the arc for 56-all score.

A seesaw battle ensued as both teams refused to back down. The pressure evident as both squads struggled from the free throw line preventing each other to pull away.

A Hojilla floater with seven seconds left evened the score and C had a chance win but missed two well-defended attempts down low for overtime.

De la Paz starred in the first extension giving Team C a four-point lead with three minutes left. But birthday celebrant Vince Tan answered back converting turnovers into fastbreak points to even the score with a minute left.

Team A was about to ice the game with 10 seconds left but missed both free throws setting up the stage for a Tony Agustin lay-up at the buzzer for the second overtime.

C’s Mark Jomalesa's playmaking kept his team within striking distance. Team A's Hojilla used his speed to penetrate the defense for a feed or score where it mattered most.

With the game still within reach, Abong made four of four in the penalty line in the last 30 seconds to seal the victory capping an all-around performance good enough to pocket the Most Valuable Player award.

Abong topscored with 22 points backstopped by brothers Brod and Dominic Hojilla with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

Tan led C with 21 points before going out with foot injury with three minutes left in regulation. Lizares, De la Paz, and Jomalesa combined for 34 points in a losing effort.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on January 25, 2014.

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