Sports Eye

The scramble to the top

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

THE second edition of the Governor’s Cup Pangasinan Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament elimination rounds of Central, Northern, Western and Eastern Conferences are now in the final stages. Conference toppers led by the rejuvenated and resurging Lingayen (Western) and Urdaneta City (Eastern) toting 6-0 and 5-0 (win-loss) records, respectively, will likely sweep their respective remaining Conference games because both are facing cellar opponents in their respective divisions.  Both are undoubtedly heavily favored to win their last two games.

Defending champion Binmaley is also unblemished (6-0) but it must hurdle Calasiao (5-1) on December 17 before it can grab the Conference pennant. Note that Calasiao is hosting the December 17 matches and so Binmaley will not only face the raging Calasiao quintet but a partisan crowd as well that will provide the morale boost to the host team. Although the odds are small, an upset is still possible.  Frankly, being the defending titlist and determined to defend their title, undoubtedly Binmaley is still the superior of the two.

But Calasiao still has to beat Sta. Barbara (3-3) on December 16 at the Calasiao gym. That could be an easy task for the Puto Makers but their Binmaley encounter will be a make or break for them because a win will pave the way to the Central Conference pennant defended by Binmaley. In case of a Calasaiao win, both Binmaley and Calasiao will tote 7-1 cards.  But according to the organizing Pangasinan Sports Development and Management Council’s chief executive officer Modesto Operania and the league’s commissioner Edil Abalos. Calasiao will still have the upper hand because of to the win-over-the-other FIBA rule being applied. Let’s wait and see.

The situation in the Central Conference is similar to what’s happening in the Northern Conference. Manaoag that just finished all its seven games with a 6-1 card, on the brink of winning the pennant. Bautista and my town Mangaldan are tied in second position so far with a card of 5-1 (as of December 10). The two will clash on December 16 with Bautista playing host, a very vital game for both because a win for Bautista will dislodge Manaoag at the top again because of the win-over-the-other FIBA system. Remember, Bautista defeated Manaoag, 88-81, last November 25 held at the Pozorrubio gym while Bautista lost to Sto. Tomas, 93-83, last December 9 in Binalonan. But a win by Mangaldan over Bautista will put Mangaldan in the second spot alone overall, and Bautista will lag behind in third position, making Manaoag automatically the Conference winner. (Note: Manaoag nipped Mangaldan, 83-81, last December 10 in Mangaldan’s own turf, the Macario Ydia Development Center. I watched the heartbreaking loss my town Mangaldan in that cliffhanging match. Many believed it was poor shooting at the free-throw line by Mangaldan cagers that did them in. I agree. The statistics show that Mangaldan only converted 11 of 31 free throws, roughly 35 percent while Manaoag sank 10 of the 19 free throws given them or 47 percent rating. Those made the difference for Manaoag.

Like in the first edition, each Conference’s top three winners will receive cash prices from our sports-minded and dynamic head of the province Governor Amado “Pogi” I. Espino, lll.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And the angel Gabriel said, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring fort a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. LUKE 1: 31