Battling for the next round
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
AS expected, the defending champion Urdaneta City five showed its superiority and prominence anew. It whipped their last two opponents San Carlos City and Laoac last December 14 and 15, respectively, finishing its nine-game of hostilities unscathed in the elimination round to bag the Central Conference pennant of the 4thGovernor’s Cup Inter-Town/City Basketball Tournament held at Calasiao Sports Complex.
As in the past, I watched how the boys of head coach Rizaldy Garcia managed to protect their precarious lead in the first two quarters, 17-15, 41-38, and eventually won, 79-69, with the much-improved Ralph Perez and Jerico Mondala doing most of the damage in the third with 17-9 binge, and led by a dozen marks, 60-48. The fourth period was marked with counter-baskets for the two title contenders with the Urdanetans prevailing in the end by ten points. Urdaneta ripped Laoac by 25 marks, 96-71, the following day at the same venue.
Carding a 4-3 slate after its debacle in the hands of Urdaneta, its belief that another loss will jeopardize their chance to enter the second round, I saw it how the San Carleans played hard as-they-could against three-time first runner-up and title challenger Manaoag the following day (December 15) to capture the third period, 54-53, and led by seven points, 62-55, in the middle of the fourth orchestrated by its marquee players Dhan Santos and Francis Fernandez. Unfortunately, they eventually succumbed to the more experienced Manaoaguenos, 66-71, who engineered a 11-2 spree inside the last three minutes of the match with Jhomel Aron Sansano at the helm especially with his crucial offensive rebounds and perfect four-for-four free throws in the dying seconds. San Carlos now totes 4-4 (win-loss) record and in sixth place, so far, just behind by one game over Mangaldan and Malasiqui, both with 5-3 slate.
As of this writing, San Carlos and Mangaldan will be pitted against each other on December 21 at 9:00 a.m. at the same venue (Calasiao). It’s a must-win for the two. A Malasiqui win (which is most likely to happen on the same date and venue) over the rear-running Mapandan (1-8) will maintain its fourth place stand after Urdaneta, Manaoag and Bayambang and qualified for the second round.
A win by San Carlos over Mangaldan will tie Mangaldan with 5-4 card and the win-over-the other FIBA method will be enforced to break the tie with the San Carleans seizing the fifth place to take the ‘wild card’ slot and Mangaldan will land sixth and out for the next round. But a victory by Mangaldan over San Carlos is a big win for my town mates tying Malasiqui and Bayambang with 6-3 (win-loss record) and the triple-tie FIBA quotient system will be implemented. Mangaldan will finish third in the conference due to its 21 points (95-74) overwhelming victory over Bayambang last December 14 while Mangaldan just lost to Malasiqui by just four points, 113-109. If that happens, Bayambang will be relegated to fourth place and Malasiqui takes the ‘wild card’ spot and San Carlos definitely will be booted out. The ‘wild card’ slot in the three conferences wrangle with each other and the winner will enter the next round joining the top four in each conferences.
I’m making this piece on December 19 and by the time you read this, the rumble-battle for the vital third to fifth positions in the three conferences is over. Reports reached me that Sto. Tomas topped the Eastern Conference side and Anda ruled the Western Conference area. That’s expected.
See you there again in Calasiao.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK:For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.ISAIAH 9: 6
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