QUEZON CITY – The visiting Diliman College Blue Dragons bagged the Third National Collegiate Basketball League (NCBL) championship by braving the hostile crowd at the Dr. Henry Noble Gym to thwart the home side Trinity University of Asia White Stallions, 59-50, in the one-game playoff last October 24 (Friday). A first time participant, the team was formerly known as the Diliman Computer Technology Institute Senators until the team of Senator Nikki Coseteng and Coach Rensy Bajar made the name change just before the start of the five-week tournament.
The White Stallions of Coach Junel Mendiola raced to a 19-9 lead after the first period behind Raymark Matias, Mark Doligon and Angelo Pineda. But just as the home team thought they would have things easy, the Blue Dragons came roaring back in the second period via the 10-point explosion of Harley Diego.
Diego scored all 10 points in a crippling 14-1 run, including the field goal that gave the Blue Dragons the lead for good, 24-23. Halftime tally was pegged at 28-25.
Matias and Laude tried their best to rally Trinity, managing to close in by a point entering the fourth period, 42-43. The lack of a supporting cast would later toll heavily on their cause.
Ivan Barranco and Laude opened the fourth by swapping triples. The Blue Dragons’ defense then limited Trinity to only two Laude free throws while beanpole Ibrahim Quattara, Ronel Panogadia and MacArthur Enriquez delivered the key hits to give Diliman its biggest lead of the game, 56-47, and 3:21 to play.
A Doligon triple proved to be Trinity’s final gasp, 50-56. From there, Coach Bajar ordered his players to waste the time away as they coasted to the victory.
Diego led all scorers with 20 points en route to being named as Most Valuable Player of the Finals. He was followed by Quattara with 13 and Barranco with 11.
Matias paced Trinity with 16 markers. Laude added 11 as the only player on their team in double figures.
Entering the Final Four as the third seed, the Blue Dragons had to overcome the challenge of second seed and defending champion Technological Institute of the Philippines. Top seed Trinity disposed of fourth seed Enderun Colleges in the other fixture.
The NCBL also honored Enderun’s Jordan Rios as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Joining him in the Mythical Five were Diliman’s Enriquez, Trinity’s Doligon, Ben Adamos of TIP and Art Patrick Aquino of Centro Escolar University.
How They Scored:
DILIMAN (59) – Diego 20, Quattara 13, Barranco 11, Enriquez 7, Panogadia 4, Protacio 3, Akpa 1, Aguilon 0, Antalan 0, Cruz 0.
TRINITY (50) – Matias 16, Laude 11, Doligon 9, Pineda 4, Wong 4, Mora 2, Reyes 2, Yombi 2, Maglupay 0, Macaballug 0, Ellarmo 0, Rivera 0.
Period Scores: 9-19, 28-25, 43-42, 59-50.