John Kelbert Victoria was a tower of power for the Malolos team
Just when everything was pointing to a return trip to the STI National basketball Tournament finals by the STI College Santa Rosa team, STI College Malolos spoils the fun. In the four years that these two teams met, STI College Santa Rosa always had the upper hand and always won big because of their experience, tenacity and team play.
Bryan Ursua is met by two big men
Unfortunately for them, the “boys” they were whipping then has turned into a well-oiled machine and during the 2016 STI National Basketball Tournament cross-over semifinals, STI College Malolos finally slayed the ghost of past losses by winning over the Group A leader 75 – 55 and barge into the National Finals against STI West Negros University.
June Aliparo being open was a rarity in the game
Both teams started the first quarter focused and tight and the first five minutes had both teams still tied at 6 – all. After another 5 minutes both teams would battle each other for points and defense and the score was still tied at 13 – all and the hype of a down the wire game was in the works. Raul Guerrero led the scoring for the Santa Rosa team while Dave Cruz was the sparkplug for the Malolos team in the same quarter.
Arche Salo rises up to the occasion
As early as the second quarter, the turning point of the game came when STI College Malolos went on a tear that broke the backs of the Laguna dribblers. With the score tied at 17 – all, STI College Malolos uncorked a 9 – 0 run that broke the game wide open as Ralph Bonifacio and Dave Cruz combined to give the Bulakenyos a 26 – 17 lead. In that run, STI College Santa Rosa missed eight consecutive shots and the defense on June Aliparo was so tight that Aliparo had to bleed for is points. Aliparo would eventually break the Santa Rosa drought by scoring five straight points but much to their dismay STI College Malolos was scoring on all angles as Kelbert Victoria, Aram Pujante and Archie Salo combined for a paralyzing 11 – 3 run courtesy of three three pointers with Salo hitting two and Pujante canning one to give the Malolos team a commanding 37 - 22 lead at the half.
Ralph Bonifacio scores on a jumper
STI College Santa Rosa tried to regroup but unfortunately they could not overcome the insurmountable lead by the Bulakenyos as STI College Malolos matched every point that the Laguna cagers would score. On top of that, STI College Malolos looked like the veteran team that used their unselfishness to confuse the Santa Rosa defense as the Malolos ball rotation always found the open man who eventually scored.
Mark Tamayo scores on a lay-in
The end came when 6’5 Malolos center scored inside the paint to put the game beyond recall as he gave the Bulakenyos a 20 point lead 69 – 49 with 3 minutes and 18 seconds left in the game. STI College Malolos will now march on to the Championship game of the 2016 STI National Basketball Tournament National Finals and try to come out with another A game to avenge their loss to the STI West Negros team.
Battle of the Bigmen
STI COLLEGE MALOLOS (75)
Victoria 17, Cruz D. 10, Salo 10, Tamayo 9, Gatchalian 8, Bonifacio 8, Pujante 6, Cruz L. 4, Bautista 3, Santos 0, Encarnacion 0
STI COLLEGE SANTA ROSA (55)
Aliparo 18, Guerrero 14, Ursua 6, Fabic 4, Hercia Jer. 4, Romualdo 4, Lizen 3, Ibbara 2, Hercia Jer. 0, Hercia Jes. 0, Romero 0,
13 – all, 37 – 22, 54 – 38, 75 - 55