Arvin Detubio on a difficult shot
There is something that coaches cannot teach in basketball – that is to have a big heart! The STI College Junior Olympians just showed that as their big heart gave them the needed boost to erase an insurmountable thirteen point lead to escape with a 78 – 75 hard earned victory against the hard fighting Our Lady of Fatima Junior Phoenix to give the Junior Olympians their first finals stint in the Juniors division of the 12th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities. The Junior Phoenix have earlier forced a deciding game as the third seeded Fatima squad beat the twice to beat second seeded Junior Olympians 24 hours earlier 68 – 66. The Junior Olympians now face the undefeated CEU Baby Scorpions which automatically got seeded to the finals after sweeping the two rounds of the Juniors tournament.
Erven Silverie is fouled
The Junior Phoenix controlled the game early and had the Junior Olympians was could not shake off the pesky defense of the Junior Phoenix. Hotshot Erven Silverie could not find his range, Arjay Napeñas and Patrick Aquino had a hard time driving to the lane while Arvin Detubio was always challenged. The whole offensive arsenal of the Junior Olympians were silenced by the men in green. When the Junior Olympians would pound the ball inside or elude their defenders, the Junior Phoenix would foul them and let them earn their points from the stripe. That ploy by the Fatima Juniors proved to be a good gamble as the Junior Olympians would miss their free throws time and again.
Early in the third quarter, the Junior Phoenix waxed hot as Jowell Termullo and Ronell Panagodia gave the Antipolo based Junior Phoenix squad a 44 – 35 lead which the Junior Olympians quickly erased through the efforts of Arvin Detubio who cut the lead to one 45-44. Unfortunately for the Taguig based Junior Olympians, Matignas would catch fire once more to give the men in green another double digit lead 57 – 44 as the quarter eventually ended with the Junior Phoenix ahead by ten points 59 - 49.
Nino Romano sizzles
With Silverie firing blanks and the other Junior Olympians blowing hot and cold, an unlikely hero came out to spark the Olympians comeback. Shifty point guard Niño Romano’s heroics came in the nick of time as he ignited the sagging hopes of the Junior Olympians by presiding over a crippling 13 - 2 run highlighted by his drive on a fast break to push the Junior Olympians ahead 62 – 61 with 6:45 left in the game. The Junior Olympians suddenly came alive and their signature defense worked wonders as the Junior Phoenix were suddenly plagued with numerous turnovers and botched plays as the Olympians threatened to pull away with a five point lead 68 -63. The Junior Phoenix eventually settled down and came back courtesy of Termulo and Ronell Panogadia who combined to give the Junior Phoenix back the lead 72-71 with 1:47 left in the game which made the Juniors call time out.
Patrick Aquino rises up to the occassion
Hounded all game, Erven Silverie finally found a crease in the Junior Phoenix defense as he let go of a back breaking three pointer to give back the to the Junior Olympians a 74 – 72 lead and more importantly the momentum going into the last minute of the game. After a muffed offensive by the Men in Green Patrick Aquino finished the game with four straight points to give the Olympians a commanding 78 -72 lead with less than ten seconds left in the game. The Junior Phoenix showed their nerves of steel as they scored on a long three pointer by Dave Del Rosario to cut the Junior Olympians lead to three 78 -75. The men in green had one final attempt to secure overtime as Nino Romano and Arvin Detubio failed to ice the game with successive free throw misses. The half court heave by the Termullo came out short thus sending the Junior Olympians to their first finals appearance. Although Patrick Aquino topscored for the Junior Olympians it was a concerted effort by each team member as STI lives to fight another day.
Arjay Napeñas in traffic
STI COLLEGE (78 )
Aquino 17, Detubio 16, Napenas 13, Romano 11, Silverie 9, Raymundo 5, Ngolong 4, Parinas 3, Abuy 0, Justiniani 0, Jimenez 0.
Termulo 22, Matignas 14, Del rosario 12, Panogadia 12, Cabrera 4, Mejia 3, Nunez 2, Bargola 2, Bacay 2, Jarina 2.
Quarterscores: 13 - 19, 31 - 36, 49 - 59, 78 - 75.