Sports Eye

It ain’t over till it’s over

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.


“IT’S not over until it’s over,” said Manaoag team head coach Ferdinand “Enan” Mangonon before the tossing of the ball for the second of the best-of-three championship series of the 2nd Governor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament at Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center in Lingayen last April 14.

After a week of rigid training, Mangonon’s boys were determined to avenge their humiliating setback at the hands of co-finalist Lingayen squad on April 7. And avenge they did. The Manaoag quintet returned to the hard court more determined than ever, and succeeded in snipping their nemesis Lingayen, 84-82,  to force a do-or-die match on April 21 at the same venue.

Yes, I was there and closely observed how this year’s evenly-matched teams tussled and hustled that produced seven deadlocks, 11-11, 15-15, 17-17, 40-40, 45-45, 48-48 and 50-50.

Manaoag led in the first period, 20-19, and seven at the half, 40-33, with most of the damages done by four marquee players, Angelo Aromin, Manny Santos, Aldrin Serafica and Adrian Barrozo. But the spirited first time finalist Lingayen cagers mentored by Jason Vinluan finally grabbed the front early in the third with power-forward Kenneth Castillo blazing with a 9-0 spree, backed by center Jesse Artates and guard Ramil Mendoza with five marks each. Kiko Arias closed the quarter with trey, 63-58, to the delight of the partisan crowd and again bewildered the constituents of Mayor Kim Amador who was represented by municipal administrator Carlito Hernando.

It was a seesaw battle early in the fourth and final juncture, but the two-time finalist Manaoag got the upper-hand in the first seven minutes when Santos, Aromin and Adrian Barrozo established the largest lead in the match at nine points, 82-73, with 2 minutes 42 seconds left.

But as many are wont to say “expect the unexpected,” Manaoag was leading by just two points, 84-82, with only 14 ticks remaining when three-point specialist Santos bungled his two charity shots that were supposed to seal the game.  And after Mendoza’s hurried perimeter attempt was blocked that was followed in the succeeding seconds of offense and rebound, he missed his last attempt to end the hotly contested combat by two points, to the cry of jubilation from the Manaoag bleachers.

“It’s God’s will and hard work that made us win,” Mangonon happily quipped. “It’s not yet over until it’s over.”

Yes, and the much-awaited conclusion will be in the afternoon of April 21. And by the time you read this piece, a victor was already proclaimed. (Read the report of that game in this corner in our next issue.)

Meanwhile, the battle for third place was won by Urdaneta City, 93-80, over the dethroned champion Binmaley. The Binmaleyans played dismally, losing the fire in their bellies perhaps after failing to enter the Finals.

During the first half break, the sports-minded Gov. Amado “Pogi” Espino lll announced plans to hold the third edition of the tourney sometime in October. The first two seasons were well managed by the men of the Pangasinan Sports Development and Management Council headed by CEO Modesto Operania and Marlon Domalanta.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his own tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. JAMES 1: 26

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