June Aliparo found ways for his team to win
If this tournament were the popular employee league like the Interbank commercial league, then STI College Santa Rosa would be BDO and their monicker – We find ways! Trailing most of the second half, the five-time STI Basketball Showdown champions found a way to cut a four point deficit in the last minute and come from behind to eke out a hard earned 66 – 64 win against the Visayas champions STI West Negros University. The win gave the Laguna based squad the top seed in Group A and a ticket to the championship game for the right to become the first National Champion of the STI National Basketball tournament.
June Aliparo was hounded by the STI WNU defenders and was having a hard time finding his range. He eventually found ways to get open, drive to the basket and score on jumpers. Aliparo sank 5 of the 21 three pointers he took with the most important one coming in the last 35 seconds of the game with STI WNU still ahead. Aliparo’s three pointer gave the lead to STI College Santa Rosa for good as the Bacolod based cagers were not able to convert in the final minute with the four possessions they had.
The game which was highly anticipated lived up to its billing as both teams would counter each other’s run every time one team was about to pull away. Both teams led by 9 points and each one would catch up once a team was pulling away. STI College Santa Rosa also found a way to battle back as Raul Guerrero used his veteran savvy to score 14 points mostly on jumpers while Dan Mamaed used his heft and bulk to collar 12 offensive rebounds and score 10 points with the most important put back coming with one minute left to cut the STI WNU lead 62 – 64. In the end, STI College Santa Rosa won the hustle battle as the most important statistic was their 32 – 8 advantage on offensive rebounds which translated to a 21 - 11 edge on second chance points.
Mark Caraan scores on this jumper
STI WNU was once again led by their awesome foursome in Kobe Vizcarra, Kraniel Villoria, Jhan Nermal and Renz Solomon. Their offense came from the four but unfortunately buckled in the endgame. STI College Santa Rosa now guns for the most coveted plum against the team they beat last year STI College Global City. STI West Negros University and STI College Koronadal will battle for third place.
STI COLLEGE SANTA ROSA (66)
Aliparo 24, Guerrero 14, Mamaed 10, Ursua 6, Peña 3, Lizen 4, Caraan 4, Almoro 1, Fudotan 0, Hercia 0
STI WEST NEGROS UNIVERSITY (64)
Vizcarra 19, Solomon 13, Nermal 11, Villoria 10, Pastias 6, Arandes 3, Cadase 2, Belocura 0,
14 – 13, 30 – 29, 45 – 49, 66 - 64