MANDALUYONG CITY – The Rizal Technological University Blue Thunder successfully completed a back-to-back conquest of the Universities and Colleges Athletic Association (UCAA) basketball tournament by trouncing the Olivarez College Sea Lions, 84-76, Thursday afternoon (October 9) at the RTU Gym. The Blue Thunder thus swept the best-of-three championship series, 2-0.
RTU of Coach Johnedel Cardel needed a strong second half performance to overturn a 31-37 halftime deficit. Game One hero Renell Montecillo fired a pair of triples to knot the score at 40-40 and Jopet Quiro scored on a drive to give the home team the lead for the first time since 10-9 in the opening period, 42-40.
With momentum clearly on their side, the Blue Thunder went on a tear behind Quiro and Sandy Cenal, with Montecillo draining another triple to give them their biggest lead of the contest early in the final period, 61-50. Still, the visiting Sea Lions gave it one final push behind Pruvil Bermudes and Danny Masso to cut the Thunder’s lead to only three points entering the final two minutes on a tip-in by Vinny Begaso, 69-72.
Quiro played the role of fireman with a key basket immediately followed by a steal and unmolested layup that broke the Sea Lions’ backs with 1:52 to play, 76-69. The RTU defense then stepped it up further by holding Olivarez without a field goal while Cenal and Glen Pronto iced the game and the championship from the free throw stripe.
The dynamic duo of Quiro and Cenal sizzled for 19 points each to lead the Blue Thunder. They saved enough for the finishing kick with Quiro making 17 and Cenal 10 in their second half rally.
Bermudes paced the Sea Lions with 19 followed by Ivan Moreno with 12. It was a sorry loss for the Paranaque City-based quintet after they topped the double elimination round with an 8-2 win-loss card.
Quiro was fittingly rewarded as he was named tournament Most Valuable Player. Joining him in the Mythical Five were teammates Cenal and Montecillo and the Olivarez pair of Moreno and Masso.
“I am so proud of my players because of their discipline and hard work,” said Coach Cardel who earned his second major trophy in only 17 months at the helm of RTU. “We would like to thank the RTU community for their support especially our President Dr. Jesus Rodrigo Torres.”
Completing the championship roster are Roque Estoce, Elias Sarona, Algin Justiniani, Kevin Lara, Adin Santos, Storm Riva, Cyrus Tabi, Kerr Bangeles, Mark Francis Barilea, Edwhill Malimban and Philippe Parina. RTU also defeated Olivarez in last season’s finals, 2-0.
In Game One last October 7 (Tuesday) at the Olivarez College Gym, Montecillo hit a triple with six seconds left in overtime to score the road win, 92-90. Quiro topped RTU with 25 markers followed by Montecillo with 20.
Entering the playoffs as the third seed, RTU had to beat second seed Trinity University of Asia twice in a row, 83-66 and 73-64, for a return ticket to the finals. Both teams ended up tied in the standings at 7-3 but the Stallions held the better quotient to break the tie owing to their twin wins over RTU, 77-63 and 59-55.
Meanwhile, Trinity came from behind to nip the Philippine School of Business Administration Jaguars, 79-76, in the one-game playoff for Third Place. The other schools that participated in the league’s 13th season this year were Manuel L. Quezon University and PNTC Colleges.
How They Scored:
RIZAL TECH (84) – Quiro 19, Cenal 19, Montecillo 18, Pronto 12, Bangeles 5, Estoce 2, Sarona 2, Tabi 2, Barilea 2, Parina 2, Riva 1, Justiniani 0.
OLIVAREZ (76) – Bermudes 19, Moreno 12, Bustos 9, Ollano 8, Masso 8, Saguiguit 6, Young 6, Singh 4, Gagarin 2, Begaso 2, Gelua 0, Labog 0, Geronimo 0, Lasco 0.
Period Scores: 15-17, 31-37, 52-48, 84-76.