Sports Eye

Sweet championship victory for Urdaneta City five

Bu Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

WHEN the Urdaneta City five lost its first game to twice runner-up Manaoag team by seven points, 89-82, in the best-of-three championship series of the 3rd Governor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament last April 13, Urdaneta head coach Rizaldy Garcia immediately made some adjustments and promised to be better prepared on April 26. And yes, they did. Thanks to the last four free throws of forward Jerico Mondala to make the difference for the Eastern Pangasinan champion, edging the dreaded Manaoag five by just two points, 82-80, to force the finals in a do-or-die match on April 28.

APRIL 26. I watched the second game at the Calasiao Sports Complex and saw how the Manaoag boys of head coach Ferdinand Mangonon took the first two quarters, 25-16 and 44-40, with wily point-guards Manny Santos and Adrian Barrozo at the helm, and drained six treys together.
Manaoag improved its front by 10 points, 52-42, early in the third juncture, but the never-say-die Garcia boys orchestrated a marvelous 28-0 romp starred by forward Lawrence Batalla, sinking an incredible six treys (18 points) beyond the arc to lift his team to grab the lead, 73-56. That performance awed the crowd. Frankly, that 28-0 spree by the Urdaneta team was the most impressive onslaught I ever saw in in any amateur basketball championship games. Yes, a record was established in this annual tourney organized by the sports-minded Guv “Pogi” Espino. He was there with board member Angel Baniqued, Calasiao Mayor Joseph Bauzon and others and witnessed that awesome run.

The Manaoag boys of Ferdinand Mangonon countered with a249 binge in the fourth and final canto led by its key players Mark Meneses, Bryan Rosalin, Manny Santos and Joe Anthony Ignacio, but it was not enough to overcome Urdaneta’s lead, thanks to that 28-0 blitz.

. The Calasiao gym was again jampacked. Guv Pogi, Mayor Bauzon and Board Member Dr. Jeremy Rosario certainly made it a point to be there for the third and final game. The hostility was tension-filled from the very start, and unlike the April 26 game, it was Urdaneta this time that took the lead in the first two quarters, 20-17 and 46-42, spearheaded by its marquee cagers Batalla, Ysmael Sarmiento, and Christian Abo who combined for 38 points. Manaoag, however, managed to engineer a 26-5 run led by Rosalin, Barrozo and Meneses to seize the third period, 68-61.

 But it was the last four minutes that really changed the tempo of the game. Urdaneta was trailing by 10 points, 81-71, when it managed a 9-0 run to trail by a mere point, 80-81, with 1:41 minutes left. But Manaoag did not lose hope and engineered a 4-0 binge after Urdaneta bungled a three-point and two free shots to snatch the lead by five marks, 85-80, 28.5 seconds remaining. Mondala pumped in four points after Barrozo missed three of his four free throws but intercepted a hurried inbound pass by Manaoag’s Angelo Aromin with 1.6 ticks left, and quickly passed it to Bravo for the unmolested shot beneath the board. That sealed the final match and championship to the delight of the cheering Urdaneta fans but some teary eyes at the Manaoag bench. It was Manaoag’s third heartbreaking loss in the finals, a record. It was Urdaneta’s first crown after three tries.

The fourth season unfurls after the wet season, probably in October or November according to the organizing PSDMC officials.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: He removes the mountains, and they do not know when He overturns them in His anger. He shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble. JOB 9: 5-6

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