QUEZON CITY – National College of Business and Arts crowned itself the champions of the National Capital Region Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletic Association (NCRUCLAA) Juniors Division with an emphatic 82-75 decision over a tough Saint Francis of Assisi College at the Colegio de San Lorenzo Gym Tuesday (March 28). The Junior Wildcats woke up just in time from their lethargic start to carve out the victory and sweep not just the best-of-three series but also all their 10 games in the tournament.
After exploding for 31 points in Game One last Thursday (March 23) which NCBA won, 84-81, Kenneth Cortez could only cough up six points through the first three periods that saw the scored tied at 58-58. Cortez was not to be denied as he scattered nine markers in the pivotal fourth period run capped by a three-point play off Carlos Lucente that gave the Wildcats an unassailable 82-73 advantage with 1:08 to play.
At the onset, Saint Francis looked determined to force a Game Three with starters John Ephraim Gay, Jomar Ignacio and Carlos Ysmael III pushing their side on top, 20-14. However, NCBA retaliated as guards Emon Basilio and Aeron Verbo began connecting from all angles and big boys Emmanel Alarcon and Mark Froilan Nebre had easy scores underneath to set the stage for the thrilling fourth period.
“The players did all the work, I just guided them,” said winning Coach Jhay Ocampo, himself a former NCBA varsity player. “Many of these kids were recommended by my teammates and others were walk-ins so we built from there.”
Basilio led the Junior Wildcats with 17 points, scoring seven points each in the second and third periods. Cortez ended up with 15 points while Alarcon was next with 13 and Verbo with 10.
Gay paced the Baby Doves with 21 points. He got support from John Matthew Santos with 17 and Lucente and Ignacio with 10 points apiece.
Right now, Coach Ocampo is looking at the prospects for next season as all of his players will be returning. Other members of the champion squad are Hezekiah Ramos, Keith Russel Beljera, Aaron Reyna, JM Aculana, Julius Kent Sta. Ana, Matthew John Sayson, Aivher Ballad, Ralph Robles and Christopher Reyes.
How They Scored:
N C B A (82) – Basilio 17, Cortez 15, Alarcon 13, Verbo 10, Ramos 7, Beljera 5, Reyna 4, Nebre 4, Aculana 4, Sta. Ana 3, Sayson 0.
SAINT FRANCIS (75) – Gay 21, Santos 17, Lucente 10, Ignacio 10, Pavia 7, Ysmael 5, Arqueza 3, Mangondato 2, Baptista 0, Callao 0.
Period Scores: 14-20, 32-33, 58-58, 82-75.