AFTER four years of sacrifices and missing last year’s finals, Colegio de Sta. Ana de Victorias (CSAV) finally grabbed a finals slot in the Negros Occidental Private Schools Sports and Educational Association (Nopsscea) 37th season.
The Titans took the spot after smoking La Consolacion College-Bacolod (LCC-B), 96-56 in Sunday's semifinals at STI West Negros University gym in Bacolod City.
The Titans came out sizzling from tipoff as Jeric Adorio knocked in a triple to spark his team’s full control of the entire game taking a 24-13 lead in the opening quarter.
Adorio connected seven points, Jeffrey Manday added five markers as Vladimir Pangantihon and Carl Magbanua hit from the arc each.
Coach Elvis Atinado’s Titans’ advantage ballooned to 24 points, 41-17 half-way of the second quarter behind Christian Montepio’s pair of triples and Manday’s six-point output.
Blue Panthers’ Michael Herdon and Lupert Gaspar tried to cut down the deficit with their own counter plays but weren’t enough as CSAV’s Adorio, Sajo and Cameroonian center Junior Essakadowalla controlled the paint for 51-24 edge at half.
The Ritchie Militante-coached Blue Panthers struggled for their points while in contrast the Titans have a scoring spree with Adorio adding five more points and John Valdez hitting four markers for a comfortable 75-39 third canto lead.
Adorio paced the Titans with 16 points, Pangantihon’s 13, Manday’s 12, John Egat and Yoro’s seven each while Essakadowalla, Sajo and Montepio scored six points apiece.
So mismatched are the Panthers that Atinado rested his first stringers the entire final half giving his bench the luxury of enough playing time and experience for the final series.
Timothy Montinola and Kurth Sudayon led the Blue Panthers with eight points each while Gaspar and Nico Apostol with seven apiece.
The defeat just showed the lack of height and spunk for LCC-B which surprised everyone including Militante and his wards in barging in the Top 4 for the first time in so many years.
With Militante, a former UNO-R Ram, Peewee Demonteverde, an ex-extra ordinary guard from USLS, and ex-PBA referee Tronjay Aldaba in the coaching staff and support from Davies Paint, the Blue Panthers sideswept the Stingers under USLS coach Raymond Concha, the CSA-B Eagles of Jojo Dazo and the Sharks from VMA-Global College under Bernard Omarrementaria.
For Titans’ team managers Cruz siblings – Paolo and Paul Oliver, making the finals and winning the title are their dreams.
“All our effort are worth it. We will work hard to win this year’s title,” Paolo Cruz said after the match.
Veteran coach Atinado, who also steered the WNU Mustangs to seven straight Nopsscea titles from 1999, said that he’s happy to be back in his old home and hope to win another championship title.
“I have lots of happy memories in this court. I felt at home. And to win another title is a history in the making for the Titans,” he said.
Gerome Aledron’s University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos Rams is also back in the finals after dismissing the defending champion Mustangs in their own turf, 80-77 in the other semi-final match.
Back in the eliminations, the Titans torched the Rams, 86-70 but the best-of-3 finals will be another story.