THE M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Niños were tentative at the start of the tournament but finished on an emotional high to win the Cebu City Leg title of the Tournament of the Philippines, 78-70, over the Misamis Oriental Meteors last night at the Cebu Coliseum.
“I give it to the boys, they wanted to win the championship very much and they didn’t want to lose at home. Not anymore,” said M. Lhuillier head coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba after the game.
Alcoseba reminded the players of what had happened in Liga Pilipinas’ Conference 2 last year when they lost to the Meteors at home - twice.
“They can beat us anywhere, anytime, but not in our home. Not here, in front of our supporters,” Alcoseba added.
And the Niños succeeded. They won their second Leg title to earn another 15 points.
They also stretched their winning run to 29 straight—the longest winning streak of a semi-professional ball club in the country in recent memory.
The Niños, however, missed the services of its injured point guard, Woodrow Enriquez, who could have provided a better finish. He was forced to retire after a spinal column injury.
Still, the Cebu squad received strong moral support from the Conference 3 MVP, who was present in all four games in a wheelchair.
“Of course we (badly) missed the services of Woodrow. He could have made a lot of difference in the game. But Warren (Ybañez) really filled his spot. He made sure we will win this game,” said Alcoseba.