Four buted teams
By Jesus A Garcia Jr.
THE 2nd Governor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament, a brainchild sports project of Gov. Amado “Pogi” I. Espino, III is now nearing the homestretch. The Magic Round of eight teams was concluded last March 3 at Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center (NRSCC) in Lingayen. Yes, I was there again and watched attentively how last season’s first runner-up Manaoag defeated anew arch-foe Alaminos City, 82-71, in the first game for the semis and how co-title contender and last year second runner-up Urdaneta City mercilessly booted out Mangatarem, 110-95, and also how the defending champion Binmaley fought a close match against my town Mangaldan and survived a wild finish to clip the listless Mangaldan, 98-92, to the delight of the partisan crowd. Surprisingly joining the crop this year after its disappointing performance last season is the capital town Lingayen (under its new mentor Jayson Vinluan) upending Wild Card winner Sto. Tomas, 99-92.
Here’s how I saw the games.
Manaoag vs. Alaminos City
The Alaminos City boys obviously showed no fear and with strong determination to win the match knowing fully well that losing the game would mean ‘goodbye to this year’s league. Manaoag was enjoying the twice-to-beat advantage. I saw how the boys of coach Jun Marzan applied stifling defense (ala professional) to lead the first two quarters, 19-14 and 34-32, with guard Jayson Pacis taking the charge erupting 15 points of his total 21 that rattled the Manaoag quintet. Sensing that Pacis was the surprise problem, the Manaoag five carrying 2-0 (win-loss record) this season over the Hundred Islanders, turned the tide in the third period applying a suffocating resistance against Pacis and three-point specialist Arwind Lamadrid with point-guards Manny Santos, Hamad-Obaid and forward Angelo Aromin at the helm seizing the front, 62-52. The fourth and final juncture was counter-baskets play by both teams with Manaoag eventually prevailing by eleven marks.
Urdaneta City vs. Mangatarem
Magic Round fourth placer Mangatarem fought a hard battle against Urdaneta in the first two periods to trail 18-23, 51-53, but gradually crumbled in the third, 79-68, and finally by 15 marks. Despite the defeat, Mangatarem’s entry to the Magic Round after two seasons is a big sign of progress for the southern squad. Who knows, they could be a title-threat next season.
Binmaley vs. Mangaldan
My winless town Mangaldan was evidently the underdog in the match against the defending titleholder Binmaley against the boys of coach Gian delos Angeles since last year and still up to this year. But despite the debacles and gaffes, my town mates entered the Magic Round the hard way by placing fourth. Unfortunately, they succumbed to the reigning titlist, 98-92, again with only nine of its players who showed up and played. Don’ ask me why. Note that Mangaldan has always been a quarterfinalist and never caught the ‘big one.’ Mangaldan’s best finish was in 2000 when it placed second in a field of 38 towns under the tutelage of Danny Villanueva.
Lingayen vs. Sto. Tomas
Lingayen was beaten by Sto. Tomas during the Group B joust, 99-94, and tied up with Urdaneta and Mangatarem (7-1 win-loss record) but still landed second overall behind Urdaneta to clinch the twice-to-beat incentive through the triple-tie FIBA quotient system. Lingayen lost the first quarter, 24-27, and boosted its intensity in the second period to grab the front, 52-45, protected the third, 76-71, boosted by the partisan horde raucously cheering for them, and eventually won by seven marks to the delight of their town mates.
See you at the next round I guess we will see another jam-packed crowd.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: And Jesus Christ said, “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” LUKE 14: 13-14
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