It was a normal day at the office for the STI College Olympians defense as they limited the scoring of NCRAA Champion Colegio de Santa Monica for the first Collegiate Developmental League crown at the Rizal Coliseum. While their defense was at on cruise control their shooting and offense took a day off which the Cougars capitalized on to take a 59 – 55 win over the Olympians and win the title. Prior to the game John Orbeta of the Cougars and Rama Krisna Morales of the Olympians were named into the Mythical 5 of the tournament with Orbeta getting the nod as tournament MVP.
The Olympians looked to break the game open by leading 24 – 18 with four minutes left. After that, the Olympians suddenly self destructed as their three pointers were off while a number of lay- ups rimmed out. That was the cue the Cougars needed to unleash a paralzying 11 – 0 run to end the quarter on top by five.
The Olympians had a hard time buying a basket but their defense kept them in the game. Again, a lot of their shots rimmed out while the Cougars had numerous chances to redeem themselves through their pure hustle to get rebounds. By the end of the third quarter the Cougars were comfortably ahead 47 -37 as the Olympians sputtered on the offensive side and Coach Vic Ycasiano was at a bind on who to send in since everyone seemed to be out of sync.
In the fourth quarter, the Olympians relied on their pressure defense and heart to launch a last minute comeback. Third year guard Lester Bocablo proved to be the spark plug together with Noel Ohandja as both helped bring back the Olympians. Bocablo’s hustle got him to score six points while starter JC Po sank a three pointer with a minute left to cut the Cougars deficit to three 54 -51. A three pointer by Cougars Jay Flores in the waning seconds gave the Cougars more breathing room to pull out the win.
If there is one thing that the Olympians learned from this tournament is that with five veterans namely PBA D- League players Maclean Sabellina, Cedric Ablaza and Norman Ihalas out of the team, they know that the team is mature enough to make it to the finals of a tournament like this. Come NAASCU time, the young turks will definitely be wiser, stronger and smarter.