Jags trash Navs for last finals seat-A A +A
Thursday, September 26, 2013
UNIVERSITY of the Cordilleras avoided a fourth quarter meltdown to earn the last finals slot in dumping Saint Louis University in men's basketball of the Baguio – Benguet Educational Athletic League season 27.
The defending champion Jaguars came up strong down the stretch to pull off a 91 – 84 victory Wednesday afternoon at the UC gym in their semis match-up to seal another crack at the crown after the UB Cardinals earned the first slot by sweeping the eliminations.
Chad Russell Villanueva erupted with 31 points, including ten boards, and three blocks to stage a yet another terrific play from UC.
"Binigay ko lang at ng mga kasama ko ang kaya namin, saakin naman nag-enjoy lang ako sa loob hindi masyadong pinuwersa kaya yun maganda ang laro," Villanueva said.
Jaguars head coach Joey Agacer said it was a good win for the team especially from the bench who played valuable role for the team.
"Yung bench player’s nag-step up sila especially that some of my key players were having a very bad game," said Agacer.
The Jaguars never wasted time in the first quarter running hard on the floor to secure an early 10-4 lead, but the Navigators marched alongside as Clyde Earl Habon finished off a 6-0 rally to tie the score at 10 with 4:47 running down the clock.
But UC's Andrew Payas and Jopson Dail chipped eleven fast break points to gain a slight lead against SLU, 23-19 at the end of the first quarter.
"Nagpalit din kami sa rotation, nakita namin yung weakness ng kalaban sa defense so iyon siguro ang tumulong na nagpalayo ng score sa laro," Agacer added.
But the Navigators were never disheartened as Marc Dennis Mondina connected with back to back triples with SLU closing the first half tied alongside the Jaguars at 41.
Mondina's hot hand continued to bring wonders for SLU and tasted the lead at 43 – 44 for the first time but was later on doused with cold water with Villanueva and Jopson Dail leading a 12 – 0 run to turn things in favour of the defending champion and eventually closing the third canto with a 70-56 advantage.
The Jaguars slowly piled up a 20 point advantage at 78 – 58 with 7:15 remaining in the ball game but SLU slowly chipped the deficit in the pay off canto as it came close to seven, 91 – 84 after a triple by Mondina with 58 seconds remaining after going cold in the fourth after connecting four earlier.
"Practice na rin siguro yun sa games against UB, pero pagbubutihan ko pa since mahaba pa ang araw for preparation," added Villanueva.
"Inisip ko lang na dapat magfocus sa laro, kulang pa kasi sa ensayo kaya dapat mag-step up lalo na sa susunod na laro," said a motivated Dail who chipped in 18 big points while Andrew Payas made 16 markers.
But despite the win, coach Agacer still feels the team could play better in the finals and avoid unnecessary errors.
"Marami pang factors na dapat punuan, but hopefully before the finals magawan namin ng paraan yun," Agacer pronounced.
The best of three series between UB Cardinals and UC Jaguars will commence on October 1 which will be held at the University of Baguio gymnasium. (Mark Victor Pasagoy)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 27, 2013.