MERRY Child School is really now in the league of Cagayan de Oro's best inter-school ballclubs.
After representing last year the Cagayan de Oro Athletic Association (COAA) in the Northern Mindanao Regional Athletic Association Meet (NMRAA), the barangay Bulua-based Merry Child dribblers sparkled anew in the recently held Cagayan de Oro City (CDOC) Inter-Public basketball tournament at the Nazareth gym.
The Merry Child Centurions of coach Cleto Sabanal and team manager Kim Salcedo defeated the multi-titled Assumption Montessori School (AMS) Jaguars of coach Jerico Agustine Racines, 54-51, to secure the 15-under boys' crown in 4th Season of the inter-public hoopfest.
It was a closely fought battle in the entire regulation, though the Merry Child talent in Nathan Villanueva shone as the brightest star when he exploded for 31 points to lead the Centurions' thrilling escape.
Anthony Tena backed Villanueva's huge numbers with his own 16 markers to keep at bay the AMS Jaguars who produced nine players in the scoring charts with Chris John Dy and Ralph John Teodora scattering 10 points each.
"Both Merry Child and AMS failed to make the championship round in the 17-under boys' bracket. But their titular duel in the 15-under boys' category was an epic showdown makalingaw kaayo nga dula," said tournament director Raul Fuentes.
Merry Child's entry last year in the regional meet was a surprising one for local cage buffs who have been accustomed to seeing either Corpus Christi or AMS as the top performing team in the Cagayan de Oro qualifier with Sacred Heart and Xavier University among the other top contenders.
"Unknown to many, silang Sir Kim (Salcedo) sa Merry Child naghatag na sab og scholarship sa mga bata di lang sa basketball but also in chess and taekwondo among other Palaro events. Moabot gyod ang time nga ma-rewarded ilang efforts," one private school coach told SunStar Cagayan de Oro.
Merry Child's Villanueva, Harold Gongod and Sabanal were adjudged as the 15-under boy's MVP, Most Improved Player and Best Coach, respectively.
The Mythical 5 were Kyle Vezter Patlunag of City High CDO-NHS, Christopher Basco of Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School (MOGCHS), Chris John Dy and Dominic Martin Caangay of AMS and Jacob Cuaresma of Merry Child.
Merry Child School 54 -- Nathan Villanueva 31, Anthony Tena 16, Troy Eleuterio 4, Austin Kaamiño 2, Harold Gongob 1, Godwin Tagaan 0, AJ Agad 0, Jacob Cuaresma 0, MJ Camannong 0, JM Aganan 0.
Assumption Montessori School 51 -- Chris John Dy 20, Ralph John Teodora 10, Dominic Martin Caangay 7, Kirt Russel Rampola 6, Kharl Chester Decano 4, Louis Anthony Carasig 2, Jul Kifl Hazim 1, Gian Carlo Labiano 1, Ibrahim Ali Jr. 0, Alexander Ybañez 0, Francis Quijada 0, John Edward Gonzaga 0, Rafael Fuentes 0, Cliff Dave Neri 0, Jhon David Imbat 0.