25 October 2014,
SM Mall of Asia Arena,
One big fight.
One big roar.
The Mapua (Malayan High School of Science) Red Robins fought with pride till the end.
This was their best season in 14 years.
(Members of the Mapua Red Robins walk away as members of the San Beda Red Cubs erupt in celebration after winning their sixth straight crown in the 90th NCAA Junior Basketball finals).
But, as they got tired in the overtime period, the San Beda Red Cubs banked on their free throw shooting to repulse the Red Robins, 78-65.
And, so the Red Cubs emerged with their sixth straight title in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) junior basketball championship on Saturday,October 25, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
In this game, it was Joshua Andrei Caracut who shown brightest as the Red Cubs finished their best-of-three championship series at 2-1, and clinched their 20th overall since 1936.
- First quarter
Caracut fired eight points, while Niko Abatayo attacked the hoops for 16 point, and they led the Red Cubs to a 19-10 advantage.
At this point, Noah Lugo was limited to just three of the 18 points he made throughout the game.
And so was Mythical Five player Dennel Aguirre, who also added three of his 12 points to the Red Robins,
(San Beda Red Cub Niko Abatayo (5) gets caught in a double team by Mapua’s Emman Calderon (left) and Warren Bonifacion (15)). This happened as the Red Cubs concentrated their efforts on containing the Red Robins’ fastbreak plays.
- Second quarter
The Red Robins fought to move within three points.
David Velvez, who held to nine points, moved the Red Robins to within a point with his split, 25-26, with 1:28 to go.
But Caracut’s two freebies with 33.9 seconds left allowed San Beda to stay in front by three, 28-25, at halftime.
(SBC Red Cubs slotman Kenneth Alas in a rebound scramble).
As the Red Cubs forced three big turnovers, they began moving away in the next 10 minutes.
First, it was on a split by Abatayo, then off a pair of drives from Caracut and a pair of freebies from Kenneth Altas, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Their efforts allowed San Beda to finish the period with a 13-point advantage, 45-32.
(Dennel Aguirre in action).
This is where Lugo came up with a huge effort which helped the Red Robins deal with a 13-point deficit.
Successive replies by Lugo with his drive and triple, and Aguirre off Sherwin Concepcion’s pass did the trick after the former scored on a three-point play.
This allowed the Red Robins to come close, 46-55, with 4:14 to go.
Joshua Andrei Caracut (right) gets harassed by Dennel Aguirre and Noah Lugo (5)).
The Red Robins then continued pushing and pressuring the Red Cubs to give up the ball in their next plays.
This is where the Red Robins closed the gap further off Lugo’s three freebies, 52-59.
The situation became scarier for the Red Cubs, when Caracut committed a lane error of a harassing Velvez, and turned the ball over in the last 59.1 seconds.
(Teammates hug Joshua Andrei Caracut at the end of their encounter).
It was one of two errors in the last minute which the Red Robins took advantage of.
Velvez then scored on an assist by Lugo, and the Red Robins came close to within five, 54-59.
After Marc Diputado committed an inbounding error, the Red Robins pushed on again, with Concepcion draining a triple with 35.9 ticks to go.
(Coach JB Sison).
Then, Lugo quickly recovered of a loose ball from Laurenz Victoria, and passed on to the Red Robins’ crunchtime operator/specialist, Velvez.
Pandemonium broke loose after Velvez scored with his drive with 24.4 seconds, as the count got equalized at 59-all.
A passing error took place when Caracut passed the ball on top Decapia , and this forced a turnover, and the Red Robins a chance to win it in regulation.
(coach Randy Alcantara).
But, Lugo could not his two attempts from long range, the first with 8/10ths of a second left, and the second missing its mark as the buzzer sounded.
“We fought with pride in last sec of the 4th,” said Velvez a few hours later when he recalled their game on Facebook .
(Point guard Noah Lugo (5) tries to shake off Alberto Bordeos).
The Red Robins were growing tired in the extra period.
And, at the same time, the referees were calling it tight.
In the next five minutes, the Red Cubs sank 11 of 13 charities.
(David Velvez (12) caught in a screen by Niko Abatayo and Mar Diputado (18)).
The Red Cubs pulled away slowly.
First off Alas’ layup in the last 3:16, his basket breaking the game’s last deadlock at 60-all.
Then, two charity shots from Abatayo off Aguirre’s fifth foul, and four from Caracut allowed the Red Cubs to pull away, 68-61, with 1:44 to go.
(Sherwin Concepcion in action).
It seemed over for the Red Cubs after Abatayo drove past Jasper Salenga and Sherwin Concepcion with 1:23 left, 70-61.
After another split from Caracut put San Beda ahead, 71-61, and there was still 1:18 remaining.
Then Concepcion replied with a trey, which somehow allowed the Red Cubs to threaten, 64-71.
But, they could not get any closer as Lugo fouled out while trying to stop Caracut twice.
Caracut drained five charities, and it was finally over for the Red Robins with still 20.3 ticks to go.
- What the championship meant to coach JB Sison, coach Randy, Caracut, the Diputado brothers and Lugo
As the Red Cubs erupted into celebration at courtside, and members of the the Red Robins starting walking away from the scene of jubilation, their title conquest began taking different meanings to members of both teams.
For Marc, winning the championships has turned into a family affair for him and his older brother Adven Jess.
Another championship was added to their family’s treasure trove ten days after Adven Jess got involved in the National University Bulldogs title conquest in the 77th University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) men’s basketball tournament.
(Members of the Mapua Red Robins walk past a scene of celebration).
For them, its not just a double treat for the San Beda community, as it came some three days after the San Beda Red Lions took their fifth senior division crown in the NCAA following a 89-70 triumph over the Arellano University Chiefs.
“Ang saya saya, nag-champion ako , nag champion din ang kapatid ko,” said Marc as he whooped it up with his teammates at courtside.
He and Adven Jess were together when the Red Cubs won their fifth straight crown.
(The San Beda Red Cubs holding their trophies).
For Caracut, winning the championship is sweeter since this is his third with the team, along with Abatayo.
“Masarap ang feeling. Pinaghirapan namin ito lalo na at last year ko na,” said Caracut, who wept tears of joy at courtside, and he also had a large welt on the left side of the forehead after getting stepped on by Victoria in the third period.
For coach JB Sison, he said he is glad that the players were able to pull it off.
“Sila (MHSS) ang no. 1 team. So kahit paano, underdog kami. But, my players delivered, nagperform sila,” remarked Sison, who added that it had been a roller-coaster experience season for them.
As the Red Robins retreated to dugout to ponder their loss, coach Randy Alcantara said the boys fought gallantly.
“Nandun sila. Pero kinulang. Ang matindi nito, nasaktan kami ng grabe para matutunan namin ang game na ito,” stated Alcantara.
He added that the players who won’t graduate this year will be back and ready in their efforts to earn the crown next season.
For Lugo, the finals was challenging and tiring.
“Pagod at hirap.. Ang hirap kalaban ng San Beda. Tsaka, kinaya namin at lumaban kami kaya nag-overtime,” said Lugo.
Lugo admitted that members of the team seemed to have lost focus when the referee started making tight calls, and this when San Beda started pulling away.
Nevertheless, he is still happy that the Red Robins made it to the finals.
SBC 78 – Caracut 30, Abatayo 14, Alas 12, Decapia 6, Bordeus 6, Diputado 3, Framil 3, Abuhijle 2, Furaque 2.
MIT 65 – Lugo 18, Concepcion 13, Aguirre 12, Velvez 9, Victoria 5, Calderon 4, Bonifacio 3, Pascua 1, Cabural 0, Enriquez 0, Salenga 0. Quarterscores: 19-10, 28-25, 45-32, 59-59, 78-65