HE was not the most valuable player (MVP) and he never made it to the Mythical 5 choices. He was not even listed in the final roster of players submitted to the officiating table.
But last Sunday, October 6, wingman Carlo Saldon delivered a hat trick hard to escape from the probing eyes of local cage buffs who filled the Corpus Christi gym to the rafters during the finale of the first-ever MYBL (Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation Youth Basketball League) in Cagayan de Oro City.
With the score tied at 96-all and time ticking away in the final fourth quarter, Saldon summoned all his strength and gave the fast-breaking Mil Jefferson Jalop a wild chase. Before the buzzer sounded, Saldon soared like an Eagle and timely blocked Jalop from behind to deny Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori School’s victory in the regulation.
Saldon’s accurate, clear block of Jalop eventually paved the way for the host team Corpus Christi School’s 116-107 overtime win over the smaller Sacred Heart unit for the premier 18-under crown of the MYBL hoopfest.
“Grabe ka thrilling iyang pang MVP-worth nga shot block kay kon gitawagan sa referee og foul disgrasya gihapon ‘mi sa freethrow line,” said Corpus Christi coach Carlo Dagalea of Saldon who also had 13 points, two offensive boards and two defensive rebounds in spoiling the Sacred Heart party.
Before that, the Corpus Knights had the last ball possession with Louis Andre Joring bringing the ball down court with still 9.6 seconds to go.
To everyone’s surprise, Joring suddenly lobbed the ball from midcourt range that hugely missed and set the tone for Jalop’s coast-to-coast assault.
“Abi daw niya’g 1.6 seconds na lang ang nabilin maong layo pa sa ring iya na’ng gilabay,” said Dagalea of Joring’s desperate attempt cum blunder.
In the one-off championship match witnessed by Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno and former PBA champion coach Ryan Gregorio, the heftier Corpus Christi Knights and the small but speedy Sacred Heart Saints of coach Edgardo “Boy” Dacoco both latched into a plethora of youth-driven errors.
Although exciting in the offensive end, the exchange of miscues also opened many winning chances for both sides with the host squad barely holding a narrow lead at the end of the first (22 to 21) and eight points in second (48 to 40) and 70-all deadlock in third quarter.
Making it to the finals without a legitimate center, Sacred Heart’s title bid was even crippled when feisty guard Joamarie Tion sprawled on theb floor and was carried early to the bench due to cramps.
The relatively short Tion just scored 9 points, but his ball handling and court leadership was a nightmare to the pre-dominantly Corpus fans, including school director Dr. Alfonso del Fierro.
“He reminded me of another Kagay-anon and now PBA star Gio Jalalon. Which would only prove that height is not an obstacle for a talented court warrior to become a PBA player someday,” said Gregorio during the awards rites.
High-flying guard Iawe Dave Bustamante paced the Knights with 27 points, thus earning him the finals’ MVP award.
Joring and Jean Pierre Gaston delivered 22 markers each. While “Cool Cat” Lance Lanuza and Ethan Enterina contributed 12 and 9 points apiece.
Vincent Yabo topscored the Saints with 24 points, while Jalop, Joshua Jones Ibot, Curt Plazo and Henrich Calit added 19, 17, 16 and 10 markers, respectively.
Like Sacred Heart, two or more Corpus Christi dribblers were exhausted and did not finish the game due to cramps.
“But we’re ready for situation like this. We prepared hard for two years and we’re handsomely paid off though in a dramatic way kay sa gamay nga sipyat lang gyod nagdaug,” said youthful Tristan Mark “Trim” Pagente, who handled the Corpus Christi Juniors with fellow coaches Dagalea and Catrina June Pong-Biongcog assisting him on the bench.
Corpus Christi also won the 12-under jewel at the expense of Xavier University, 86-39, even as the XU Junior Crusaders vented their ire in the 15-under final by besting the same foe, 81-70.
Mayor Moreno, MVPSF Executive Director Gregorio, MVPSF Community Sports and Youth Dev’t Head Atty Jang Moreno, Maita David of MVPSF Marketing, Yvette Ruiz of Smart Communications and Stephen Dacoco, MYBL program director, led the awarding ceremony.
The tournament was supported by the city government, Smart, Cebu Landmasters, Pagcor, Balibago Waterworks System, kagamhanan sa syudad, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, CORDS, CDO Basketball Federation and PLDT.
Corpus Christi Knights 116 -- Bustamante 27, Joring 22, Gaston 22, Saldon 13, Lanuza 12, Enterina 9, Miralles 4, Guevarra 1, Mabale 1, Lim 0, Torniado 0, Yoshino 0, Nuneza 0, Delos Santos 0.
Sacred Heart Saints 107 -- Yabo 24, Jalop 19, Ibot 17, Plazo 16, Calit 10, Tion 9, Galagar 6, Pelaez 0, Idulsa 0, Parba 0, Galye 0, Dahan 0, Tilap 0, Gamo 0.