Sports Eye

Manaoag upsets Lingayen, faces Urdaneta in finals

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

THE Manaoag cagers of Mayor Kim Amador returned to the championship round for the third consecutive time by beating Lingayen twice-in-row in the best-of-three semifinal series of the 3rd Governor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament.

I was at the Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center (NRSCC) in Lingayen on April 6 and saw how the boys of Manaoag head coach Ferdinand Mangonon scored a hard-earned victory 107-105 in overtime, en route to face newbie finalist Urdaneta City on April 13.

Manaoag even led the match by 17 points, 44-27, midway in the second quarter that many believed would be an easy victory for them, until Manaoag found itself in trouble in the third period. The stifling defense applied by the capital town’s boys of head coach Jason Vinluan led by last year finals MVP Marben Mamaril, Anton Sareno and reliable center Jesse Artates tied the match, 78-78. Lingayen even led by three marks, 87-84, 1:05 minutes left in the fourth juncture but the ‘never-say-die’ Manaoag boys spearheaded by veteran Joe Anthony Jacinto pumped in phenomenal nine points, a minute remaining in the regulation time through penetration and perimeter ranges, and his last and vital two free throws that put Manaoag in the lead by three, 92-89.

But Artates managed to counter with a three-point play 5.18 seconds left to tie the match, 92-92, forced the battle to an extra five-minute play in overtime. Eventually, the shorter but speedier Lingayen squad was not lucky this time. They succumbed to the taller Manaoag five by just two points, 107-105, with Artates fouling out 1:11 minutes left which I believe caused the biggest factor for Lingayen’s defeat.

I never missed the semis skirmishes since the first season of this annual event organized by the sports-minded Gov. Amado “Pogi” Espino, lll, and I tell you, the semis battle last April 6 was the most exciting confrontation between the two title contenders especially in the third, fourth and the overtime periods that produced 15 deadlocks. Yes, both teams were determined to win the joust. Lingayen obviously wanted to extend the semis for a third and final meeting if lucky, but Manaoag had a steelier determination to sweep the best-of-three series, like what Lingayen did to them last year in the finals.

“I told my boys to win again like we did in the first match because in case a third game happens, that could be a very different story,” said Mangonon. Yes, I agreed. It was a vengeful win for Manaoag this year and painful loss for Lingayen as the defending titleholder. Lingayen swept Manaoag last year in the finals.

Mangonon is chasing the title already dodged him twice consecutively, losing to Binmaley during the first edition and last year to Lingayen. Mangonon is now focused in his battle against the third seeded and finals greenhorn Urdaneta City that earned its first championship slot by sweeping Sto. Tomas.  According to the organizing committee the Pangasinan Sports Development and Management Council.  the first match of the best-of-three finals series will be held at NRSCC gym on April 13 including the knockout game between Lingayen and Sto. Tomas that will battle for third place. Second game will be held after the Holy Week on April 26, and 28 if necessary.  Pundits say It’s an even match, but the Manaoag five has the slight edge, having a deeper bench and taller players.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: One of the criminals who were hanged said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” LUKE 23: 42-43   

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