Sports Eye

Urdaneta five shows early championship form

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

MANY say the Urdaneta City’s five victory in the third season of the annual Governor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament was a fluke, when it nipped arch-rival Manaoag team, 86-85, due to the costly passing error committed by the Manaoag squad in the last 1.6 seconds in the game. Recalling that match held at Narciso Ramos Sports and Civic Center (NRSCC) in Lingayen last April 28, the game was one of the championship cliffhangers that I ever watched in an amateur cagefest. The result was met with boisterous cheers from the Urdaneta fans and deep moans from Manaoag supporters. Yes, that was really a helluva battle from the start up to the final buzzer particularly in the dying seconds of the joust that I will never ever forget. Yes, that’s now water under the bridge but it’s still a very memorable and a sweet championship title for the Urdanetans mentored by Rizaldy Garcia, their first ever after three tries in the yearly meet.

Like the first three editions, I was there again last November 16 at NRSSC during the opening ceremony of the fourth edition of the province-wide well-organized cagefest. The sports-minded father of the province Gov. Amado “Pogi” I. Espino, lll was the guest of honor and speaker. In his speech, he stressed the importance of respect, honor and sportsmanship to all the participants. Gov. Pogi surprised the crowd with his announcement of bigger prizes this year for the team champion: P400k!  And of course a huge and handsome trophy to the delight of the spectators, the players and their respective coaches.

The large crowd composed mostly of Urdaneta, Manaoag, Lingayen and Binmaley fans came to give their respective teams morale support. I, too, patiently waited for the third scheduled match of the day between the two perennial title contenders, the Urdaneta-Manaoag tussle.

Unlike their championship encounter, the Urdaneta City five showed its superiority and championship form early by whipping the three-time first runner-up Manaoag quintet. The Urdanetans did not encounter much of a problem after the first two minutes of play taking the first quarter, 25-13, with the much-improved Jerico Mondala at the helm draining in 10 points alone for his total 30.

The Garcia boys increased their lead to nine marks in the second period, 46-37, and to as high as 21 points, 71-50, end of the third juncture. Yes, the Manaoagueros tried to rally in the fourth and final quarters orchestrating a 31-22 romp spearheaded by the team’s three spitfires Jonathan Meguin, Jhomel Sansano and Manny Santos combining 19 points, but it was not enough to cut the lead of the titleholder. Manaoag   eventually lost by dozen points, 93-81.

“Admittedly the Manaoag squad improved their plays but the taller Urdanetans with five above six-footers improved tremendously,” said basketball fanatic Gerald Barrinuevo of Mangaldan who started to follow the league last year. I have to agree but it’s just the beginning of the tourney and I believe major upsets could still happen this season. The others are also well-prepared too. Let’s just wait and see.
Other results (November 16): Sto. Tomas routed Tayug, 106-74; Sta. Barbara walloped Bautista, 88-71; and Lingayen mauled Sual, 109-89.
November 17 results: Bayambang plastered Mapandan, 107-78; Umingan nipped Alcala, 93-92; Anda thumped Labrador, 79-66; San Nicolas ripped Sta. Maria, 89-63; and Calasiao edged Mabini, 90-87.
See you there at NRSCC on November 23 and 24 with five games each day to be played.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Let no one when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. JAMES 1: 13

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