TIMOTHY Prado scored the go ahead basket while Danile Tabangcura nailed a dagger three as the University of the Cordilleras Jaguars nipped Saint Louis University Navigators in the men’s basketball of the Baguio–Benguet Educational Athletic League.
The Jaguars thus returned to the finals with a win over the Navigators in their semis match–up, 78-73 at the UB Cardinals gym Tuesday evening.
Trailing by three, 70–73 with 1:50 remaining in the ball game, Christian Valdez scored on a fast break to make it a 72–73 affair then Prado stole from SLU’s Shaun Aquisay and scored an easy lay-up with 1:17 left as Tabangura, who has been struggling from the rainbow country this season, buried a trey with 54.7 seconds remaining for a 77-73 that practically took the fighting spirit out of the Navigators.
“I never called a time out although we were down by three because I know the character of my team. I believed in their determination and they were able to win the game,” said coach Albin Santos ho is aiming for a back to back crown for the Gov. Pack Road based squad.
An 11-2 run started by Valdez with 7:21 in the third canto saw UC take a 49-41 advantage, its biggest in the game.
But Jed Barrientos started with a 5-0 blast when he dished an assist to an open Aquisay for a trey and a 46-49 UC lead and completed this with a 9-2 closer to give SLU a 55-51 lead going to the final canto.
All this, the ghost that was Barrientos conjured in just more than two minutes of action.
“We tried but we failed,” said SLU mentor Raymund Austria, who lost two key players due to injury the last two weeks.
It was also the best finish for the Navigators, a high of third in years especially with the rise of BCT as a power in the league.
John Ric Buenaventura has practically slid into one of the top roles for the Jaguars as he scored another high of 22 points while big man Krenz Trinidad had 17 for the team. Valdez made 12 points for UC which now tries to even the record of the 2012 and 2013 Jaguars.
SLU was led by Aquisay with 18 points, while Barrientos added 14. (Roderick Osis)