Jaguars nip Admirals, get second finals seat

BAGUIO. Christian Valdez of the UC Jaguars tries to shake off a CCDC Admirals defender during their step ladder semis match at the UC gym Monday afternoon. UC won, 99-74, and advances to the finals against University of Baguio Cardinals. (Jean Nicole Cortes)

UNIVERSITY of the Cordilleras (UC) Jaguars took their home court advantage to the hilt stopping Cordillera Career Development College Admirals in their step ladder semi-finals match in men's basketball of the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League.

The second seeded Jaguars leaned on its torrid three-point shooting to advance to the finals by upending season 33 host Admirals, 99-74, at the UC gym Monday afternoon.

Lydon Matbagan led UC with 23 points, while Christian Valdez chipped in 17 markers, while Jerome Meamo and Chester Elefante added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

UC coach Mark Zapanta was all praises for the team as they stepped up against a taller CCDC squad who earlier defeated Baguio College of Technology Atoms in the first step ladder semis.

"Lahat nag step up sa offense and defense," added Zapanta. "Motivated ang team kasi gusto ulit nila makabalik sa taas."

The Jaguars took a 28-22 lead at the close of the opening canto and slowly pulled away at the close of the second quarter with a 52-40 advantage courtesy of a buzzer beater three from Elefante.

CCDC then inched their way back into the ball game and came within five, 55-50, after a 15-3 run. But it was the closest they could get as UC stepped on the gas with an 11-0 run for a 66-50 Jaguars lead that practically broke the backs of the visiting Admirals.

Bryan Gravilez top scored for CCDC with 16, while Will Keane Lee and Jamil Remiendo added 13 each.

Assistant coach Albin Santos said they did not expect to be in the finals with nine rookies and six hold overs.

"We did not expect this pero nag pursige yung mga players lalo sa training," added Santos.

But both Santos and Zapanta said they have a daunting task against the defending champion University of Baguio Cardinals who remain undefeated and will enjoy a twice to beat edge in their finals match-up on today, November 13, at the UB gym.

"Malaking advantage yung height ng UB but I think pwede naming kunin sa bilis," said Zapanta.

The Cardinals are title holders for 17 of the past 24 seasons giving up the title five times to UC and twice for CCDC.

The finals is set Wednesday at the UB gym where the Cardinals hope to finish off the Jaguars.


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