Sports Eye

Another heart-breaking game between PCST and UL


By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.

MY interest in basketball started early in 1970s. I frequently watched NBA and the Manila Inter-Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA, now called PBA) then on a black and white TV. And when I had the time, I also watched some important games of the province’s number one tertiary school caging called before as MCAAD (Metro Colleges Athletic Association of Dagupan) won mostly by Dagupan Colleges (UPang) Greyhounds up to the IRAA (Ilocos Region Athletic Association) meet starred by San Jacinto-born Ruben Urbano, Mangaldan ace, the late Amado Bautista, and Infanta native Jorge Monje, to name some.

From MCAAD to PRISAA, to UCAAP, our region’s premier college basketball league is now expanded to Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) now called “Region 1-Cordillera Higher Education Schools Athletic Association Basketball League.” New participants now include La Union’s best Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (DMMMSU), Ilocos Sur’s finest University of Northern Philippines (UNP) and the Cordillera champion University of Baguio (UB). Three of our best caging institutions joined the skirmishes spearheaded by last year PRISAA champion Calasiao-based Philippine Colleges of Science and Technology (PCST) Topnotch, 2016 UCAAP titleholder Lyceum Northwestern University (LNU) Dukes and the multi-titled University of Luzon (UL) Golden Tigers all from Dagupan City.

I failed to watch the UL-DMMMSU quarterfinals’ tussle because I was in Cebu City and watched the International Boxing Federation (IBF) world light flyweight title battle which our new Filipino world champion Milan “El Metodico” Melindo successfully defended via split decision. But I was at the Calasiao Sports Complex afternoon of September 20 for the quarterfinals and saw how the UCAAP champions Dukes trounced the PRISAA titlists Topnotch, 66-60, that almost erupted into heated arguments  by the four coaches, 4:58 minutes left in the fourth and final quarter. In the end, cooler heads prevailed and the Dukes r earned the twice-to-beat incentive over fourth placer DMMMSU for the semis.

I also watched the first game of the league’s semis at the Dagupan People’s Astrodome on September 26 when the Lucao-based Dukes mentored by Nanoy Duque and Gilmark Meneses successfully booted out the La Union contingent, 95-82, with a strong finish in the fourth and final quarter to bag the first slot of the finals.

But the second game of the day, featuring 2016 PRISAA finalists and arch-rivals PCST and UL was played and ended in a spectacular manner. It had to be played via three overtime (78-78, 91-91, 103-103)! The seesaw game kept the spectators (including this writer) in suspense throughout. The veteran boys of coach Byron Vidal finally prevailed with a heart-breaking109-108 win, avenging their last year’ PRISAA championship defeat with the same single point gap, 85-86. (See related story on this page).

Frankly, it was the first time I witnessed a game that went through three overtime in the history of Pangasinan semifinal college caging between two title-contenders. Yes, a very tight match from the beginning up to the end that I’ll never forget.

“The game was decided by the brilliant coaching of UL mentor Byron Vidal,” said former UPang and LNU coach Angel Gumarang. “He shuffled his boys masterfully and maintained his focus, designed plays at both ends that were eventually effective,” Gumarang explained.

I agree. I saw that, too. In addition, the defense of the Tigers rattled the Topnotch that forced them to commit multiple passing miscues chiefly before the time expired.

According to the league’s Commissioner Danny Soria, the Tigers’ and the Dukes’ victories qualified them for the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) Northern and Central Luzon games that will be hosted by Dagupan City in November. And they have to fight it out first for the title on October 2 in the same venue.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: ”He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.” JOHN 3: 31

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