Nov. 9, 2013
FilOil-Flying V Arena,
Rashleigh “Prince” Rivero created situations and shared the ball during crucial moments with his teammates in the final quarter.
He led with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, including one during a key play in the final minute.
His efforts helped carry the La Salle Greenhills Greenies 76-72 beating of the San Sebastian Staglets in their second stepladder semifinal playoff on Saturday, Nov. 9.
This handed the Greenies a return trip to the finals of the 89th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Junior Basketball Tournament at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.
(Photo from left: LSGH Greenies whoop it up, right: Alex Barrera (green uniform#5) in action). photo sourced from LSGH Greenies Facebook page.
The Greenies thus earned the right meet the defending champion San Beda Red Cubs in the finals for the second time in three years.
Rivero’s assist to Alexis Barrera in the last 39.7 seconds made all the difference for the Greenies.
The Greenies caught big man Michael Calisaan flatfooted with Rivero’s quick and sudden pass.
The Staglets were anticipating Rivero to drive hard for a basket.
But the six-foot-two Prince’s assist to Barrera, who was behind Calisaan, allowed the Greenies to grab a six-point lead, 74-68, off Barrera’s unmolested layup.
“I expected that because when I penetrate, alam ko magko-collapse silang lahat sa akin, just what they did in the first half and the second half,” remarked the 18-year old Rivero.
The Staglets, who beat the Greenies, 55-58, in their Final Four showdown last year, made an effort to stay in the thick of the fight.
But Calisaan converted only two of four charity attempts in the finals 26.8 seconds, and managed to stay close by four, 70-74.
“That’s when we took over the game. And the most important part was when Prince created situations for his teammates in the last one and a half minute. Of course, Alex Barrera was there to convert,” said Greenies coach John Flores.
LSGH trailed by as many as 10 points, 16-26, in the first half, with Lorenzo Navarro showing the way with 11 of his 17-point tally for the Stags.
But, they charged back behind the combined efforts of Rivero, Barrera, Dela Cruz and Kobe Paras, the son of former PBA MVP Benjie who is this year’s Most Improved Player.
The Greenies took over the lead in the third, with Barrera hitting 11 of 19 points.
A triple from Paras in the final 3:12 of third allowed LSGH to grab a seven-point edge, 48-41.
Calisaan shot 10 of his 14-point total in the third as the Stags stayed close, 52-53.
Paras scored 17 points for the Greenies.
The Staglets tied the count, 58-all, off Navarro’s drive , and after steal from Barrera in the remaining 6:12.
The Greenies broke the tie of de la Cruz’s triple and Barrera’s layup with 4:32, handing LSGH a five-point lead, 63-58.
– SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WIN
With the victory, the third-seeded Greenies, which ousted Mapua, 59-56, in overtime in the first stepladder semis playoffs last Thursday, will battle the five-peat seeking and ‘thrice-to-beat’ San Beda College Red Cubs in the championship round.
They will meet starting Monday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena at 12:30 p.m.
The Final Four format was replaced this season with the ‘step-ladder’ after the Red Cubs clinched an outright championship slot with their 18-0 sweep of the double-round elimination.
Still, the Red Cubs, who have a thrice-to-beat incentive, must beat LSGH twice in the finals.
Two years ago, the Greenies had a similar situation with the Red Cubs in the NCAA junior’s finale.
LSGH actually won the first game of the championship but lost in the next two as the SBC red Cubs bagged the coveted title.
The Greenies have only a day to prepare the Red Cubs in the finals.
But, he remains optimistic.
“It’s difficult. We only have one day to practice. They are tough team and older. We lost 11 players last year. And no one expected us to be here. So, we will make the most out of it,” said Flores.
LSGH 76 – Ra. Rivero 21, Barrera 19, Dela Cruz 18, Paras 17, Ri. Rivero 1, Salonga 0, Ramilo 0, Gob 0, Abadeza 0, Lanot 0, San Juan 0.
SSC 72 – Navarro 17, Calisaan 14, Yong 13, Magno 8, Costelo 7, Loor 4, Ilagan 4, Cruz 3, Gatdula 2, Santos 0, Causon 0
Quarterscores: 13-20, 29-33, 53-52, 76-72.