Sports Eye

Manaoag quintet, one win away for the crown

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

THE Manaoag quintet took care of business with an offensive rebound and four successful free throws to survive with a 89-82 wild finish victory over the searing Urdaneta five. That puts them just one win away for the crown of the 3rd Governor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament.

The action-packed game held at Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center in Lingayen on April 13 was one that certainly will be long remembered by both teams.

 After an offensive rebound and conversion by Manaoag’s forward Bryan Rosalin 11.4 seconds left to lift Manaoag with 85-82 lead, as Urdaneta missed two hurried shots, Manaoag’s two key players Joe Anthony Jacinto and Mark Meneses hit two charities off from a foul with 5.37 ticks remaining, to seal the match watched by the big throng mostly from Binmaley and the capital town Lingayen.

Inside the NRSCC gym, I observed how the Urdaneta boys of head coach Rizaldy Garcia took the first two quarters with slim lead (28-24, 50-49) mostly delivered by his two standouts, MVP candidates Rolly Bravo and Lawrence Batalla. Sensing that the Urdaneta boys were orchestrating a play obviously quite different to Lingayen team whom they defeated twice straight in the semis this year en route to the finals, Manaoag head coach Ferdinand Mangonon employed a perimeter and penetration gambits headed by Meneses, Jacinto and seldom used Jeric Mamayson and effectively rattled the eastern Pangasinan champion Urdaneta. They successfully wrested the third period front by seven marks, 70-63.

Troubled and wary, coach Garcia engineered a stunning 9-0 spree to recapture the lead, 75-74, 6:28 minutes left in the fourth and final juncture with center Christian Abo and Arman Adviento at the helm. But surprisingly, after few minutes of pause due to brownout inside the gym which I believe was caused by strong rain, the Manaoag team countered with 9-0 binge to retake the front by eight marks, 83-75, to the delight of Manaoag buffs, after two consecutive missed shots by Urdaneta. A free throw by Ysmael Sarmiento, two points by Batalla and four from Mondala in the dying minutes were all that Urdaneta drained  to lose by seven marks.

“We reached the finals three times consecutively and worked harder this season and so I firmly stressed to my boys not to make this golden opportunity slip away again. We’re tired of being the perennial first runner-up and we’ve learned our lessons from those two debacles. I was confident we will win this time,” Mangonon said.

“We’ll make some adjustments in the second game and I think this year’s best-of-three championship series will reach game three,” came Garcia’s retort.

Obviously, the two teams are hungry for title victory particularly the Manaoag squad for being first runner-up twice. The fourth season next year (for sure) will likely end up with a different story just like what happened to first edition champion Binmaley last year. Binmaley failed to defend its title and even missed the podium finish by finishing fourth. Lingayen finished third this season after overwhelming the listless Sto. Tomas five, 100-72, in the first match of the day last April 13.

Let’s see what will happen when the two collide again on April 26 which probably will be held at Calasiao Sports Complex, according to the league’s commissioner Dr. Edilberto Abalos. Manaoag has the upper hand and slight edge but it has to prove its worth anew to win the crown. If Game Three will be necessary, it will be played on April 28. See you there.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Jesus answered Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” JOHN 17: 36

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