20 October 2014,
SM Mall of Asia Arena,
There were many heroes and bravehearted team members of the Malayan Science High School Red Robins who stepped up in Game 1 of their best-of-three finals series with the Red Cubs in the 90th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) junior basketball wars.
Some, just like their counterparts from the Red Cubs squad, did the intangibles, and I may not have noticed their game.
First, it was rookie Warren Bonifacio.
(Kenneth Alas lays up past Noah Lugo (5) and Warren Bonifacio (15)).
He had a breakout game when the Malayan Science High School Red Robins outplayed the multi-titled San Beda Red Cubs, 84-75, last Monday, October 21.
Sparingly used in earlier games because of a wrist injury, Bonifacio exploded with 18 points and 11 rebounds
It turned out to be Bonifacio’s highest output(and career-high) so far.
(Emman Calderon (6) crashes into Norrish Decapia).
He had a previous of nine points when the Red Robins swamped the San Sebastian Staglets, 80-54, last July 28 in the first round.
“Nung umpisa ng season, may injury siya. Ngayon, nakabawi siya,” remarked coach Randy Alcantara.
Second, there was Noah Lugo.
(Norrish Decapia (4) tries to steer clear of Jasper Salenga).
The Red Robins’ ace point guard fired the last his two triples in the last 4:54, allowing the Pandacan-based cagers to grab a seven-point cushion, 74-67.
He had 14 points with David Velvez, one of the Red Robins’ defensive players, and the team’s crunchtime specialist.
“Talagang go-to guy siya. Pero minsan minamadali niya bola, pero sinasabihan ko siyang dumepensa,” stated Alcantara.
(MHSS Red Robins coach Randy Alcantara and players at the bench watch the action on court).
Third, there was David Velvez.
Velvez hit nine of his 14-point tally in the last period.
He struck hardest twice in the last 2:50, first with 2:50 left, when he drove past Niko Abatayo and Kenneth Alas and kept the Red Robins ahead, 76-70.
(Red Cubs coach JB Sison in deep thought).
A drive off Sherwin Concepcion’s pass in the last 2:08 enabled the Red Robins to keep their distance, 78-72.
His three-point play off Mark Framil with 58.4 seconds gave Malayan an eight-point lead, 83-75, in the closing minute.
“Consistent sila ni Laurenz (Victoria) sa depensa. Bonus na lang kung maka-iskore,” said Alcantara.
(Warren Bonifacio (15) grabs the loose ball, and is poised to pass it to Noah Lugo (5)).
Alcantara also mentioned Victoria’s game
Victoria made 12 points, including a drive in the last eight seconds of the third period, and this kept the Red Robins in the thick of the fight,
- Play by Play
The Red Cubs stayed in the thick of the fight until the last 8:05.
Marc Diputado, who had 12 points, tied the count for the last time with his free throws, 65-all.
Struggling with foul trouble the Red Cubs turned the ball over thrice, and the Red Robins moved away by seven on Lugo’s trey, 74-67.
(Niko Abatayo gets the loose ball, and is entangled with Emman Calderon (front), Dennel Aguirre, (center) and Mark Framil (7)).
After that, they lost key player Joshua Andrei Caracut to five fouls in the last 4:40.
They still managed to stay close on Sam Abuhijle’s free throw, 68-74.
The Red Cubs then threatened to within four, 70-74, after Diputado scored on two free throws on a technical foul called on Victoria, who was already sent out on his fifth foul.
Victoria was given a sixth foul when he resented to last call, and complained to the referee. But that call was instead charged to Alcantara.
The Red Cubs, who showed signs of fatigue in the closing minutes refused to give up after Velvez drove in in the last 2:50, and the Red Robins stayed up, 76-70.
Kenneth Alas, who powered the Red Cubs with 15 points and nine rebounds, kept matters close, 72-76, with his penetration in the last 2:38.
The Red Cubs then lost one of their key players, Norrish Decapia in the last 2:24.
After delivering 13 points and five boards, Decapia was sent out with pain on his left leg.
“Medyo napagod sila, at na foul trouble, kaya nag-adjust kami. Nag-click naman,” said Alcantara.
The Red Robins took advantage of his absence, and they went on to move, 78-72, with 2:08 left off Velvez, after he got a pass from Sherwin Concepcion, who earlier stole off Evan Furaque.
Undaunted by their manpower woes, the Red Cubs struck from the outside with Mark Framil converting a triple and the Taytay-based dribblers stayed within range, 75-78.
That was when Concepcion struck with a jumper from the left, and MHSS kept their five-point edge, 80-75, with 1:23 to go.
It was over for the Red Cubs after Furaque missed an attempt, Velvez converted a three-point play with 58.4 ticks left, 83-75.
The Red Robins are close to their first title in 14 years.
Their title series with the Red Cubs could be over on Wednesday when they meet anew at 11 a.m.
Or the Red Cubs could just bounce back and prolong the series and to a deciding Game 3.
MIT 84 – Bonifacio 18, Lugo 14, Velvez 14, Victoria 12, Concepcion 7, Aguirre 4, Calderon 4, Pascua 4, Salenga 4, Cabural 3.
SBC 75 – Alas 15, Decapia 13, Diputado 12, Furaque 12, Abuhijleh 9, Framil 5, Bordeus 4, Caracut 4, Abatayo 1, Alfaro 0.
Quarterscores: 23-23, 44-45, 63-63, 84-75