Surprising Sto. Tomas quintet
By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.
THE Sto. Tomas quintet entered the Group B quarterfinals of the 2nd Pangasinan Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament the hard way. It topped the Northern Conference’s 5th and final slot of the Wild Card round by defeating Alcala, Laoac and Binalonan and joined the ten-town fray of Group B composed of Lingayen, last year’s 2nd runner-up Urdaneta City, Bautista, Mangatarem, Calasiao, Bugallon, Pozorrubio, Balungao and Bolinao. And to my surprise last February 10, Sto. Tomas, mentored by Gary Villar Coloma, edged out the elimination round Western Conference champion Lingayen, 99-94, and now leads the group B alone with five wins sans loss. Lingayen as of this writing (February 15), is now in second place together with the surging Mangatarem and Urdaneta City toting four wins with single defeat.
Again on February 15, I saw how the much-improved Santo Tomas five kept a firm hold of the lead from the opening toss of the ball to lead by three points in the first period, 28-25, mostly done by power-forward Renel Doral chipping in 14 points alone, then by two marks at half time, 52-50, by nine in the third juncture, 83-74, and finally by five, 99-94. In fact, the outrebounded but determined Santo Tomas boys even led by 12 points, 66-54, midway in the third quarter, with the Lingayen boys missing six consecutive free throws that made coach Jason Vinluan shake his head in frustration.
Lingayen engineered and amazing comeback in the fourth and final quarter for a tie or a win with forward Marvin Mamaril and center Artates doing the onslaught to finally trail by just three points, 97-94, in the last 43 seconds of the match. But the breaks were not for the boys of Vinluan this time. Forward Michael Castro missed an unmolested fastbreak shot and three follow-up perimeter attempts. Those crucial shots made the big difference for the Lingayen boys.
“The breaks were for them (Sto. Tomas) at nakita ko na malambot ang mga bata. This is a wake-up call for us and if we face them again, we’ll do better,” said Vinluan.
“Pinaghandaan talaga namin ito at condition at consistent ang mga players namin. Salamat sa mga sumuporta sa amin lalo na ang sports-minded na mayor naming si Timoteo Villar, lll,” Coloma said.
The five-foot-eleven Doral scored a game high of 34 points. Azzir Rabara and the team’s wily-guard Ronald Garnet Asuncion contributed 17 marks apiece.
Lingayen’s Mamaril had a team 21 points including five treys behind the arc. Mark Castillo and Michael Castro contributed 15 and 10 marks, respectively.
Sto. Tomas came from the cellar and laddered to the top position in group B by beating Balungao, 83-76; Calasiao, 107-95; Pozorrubio, 91-84; Lingayen, 99-94; and Mangatarem, 85-78. I guess the unblemished (so far) Santo Tomas quintet can now be considered as co-title contender of the league. But Sto. Tomas has to hurdle more formidable foes like Urdaneta City (defeated by Lingayen, 114-110) scheduled on February 17, Bautista on February 18, Bugallon on February 24 and Bolinao on February 25, all to be conducted at Calasiao gym. According to league commissioner Edilberto Abalos, top four teams each from Group A and Group B will qualify for the league’s quarterfinals.
See you guys there in Calasiao and Urdaneta gyms on February 17 and 18.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. But made Himself of no reputation taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. PHILIPPIANS 3: 6-7
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