Jaycee Adjei was perfect from the field
Defending champion STI West Negros University showed the stuff that they are made off by fending off a late rally by STI College Balagtas to win the cross-over semifinals 81 – 77 and become the first team to enter the STI National Basketball Tournament National Finals Championship game. Zane Carumba sank the insurance basket with seven seconds left to give the Mustangs a four point cushion. STI College Balagtas muffed their remaining field goal to send STI WNU to the finals and a chance to defend their title.
The triumvirate of Jaycee Adjei, Renz Solomon and Ronel Panogadia pummelled the STI College Balagtas defense to no avail as the three had a field day in scoring as Adjei and Panogadia scored almost willingly inside the paint while Solomon manufactured his points after being hounded by the Balagtas guards.
Jason Maglalang on the offense
Adjei went a perfect 11 for 11 from the field as his drives surprised the slow reacting Balagtas defense that made him score a team high 23 points. Panogadia on the other hand was the master of the pump fake that made him score 8 points on free throws. Panogadia had a double - double as he scored 16 points and pulled down 17 rebounds and contributed three steals. Solomon on the other hand looked for ways to shake his defenders as he took over in the third quarter scoring 10 points of his 21 to go with his six assists and a steal.
Jonas Reyes is fouled
The first quarter was like a see-saw battle as STI West Negros started with a five to zero run which resulted in a Carlo Tan Time-out for STI College Balagtas. After that ceasefire, STI College Balagtas answered with a seven to zero run to lead 7 – 5 that was capped by a John Joson three-pointer in the 5:29 mark. Both teams would battle it out through two ties and four lead changes to end the quarter at 17 – 16 with STI WNU ahead courtesy of a Panogadia basket.
Plastina on the attack
The second quarter was a game of catch-up as STI WNU would score then STI College Balagtas would counter. Jaycee Adjie’s timely offensive rebounds and offensive penetrations were unmatched by the Balagtas big men. Adjie would score eight second quarter points while the Balagtas team were scoring intermittently. The result was a six point halftime lead for STI WNU.
STI WNU started the third quarter with their guns blazing as they scored ten straight points in the first two minutes courtesy of Adjei and Jay Carmona to take a sixteen point 43 – 27 lead. STI College Balagtas would eventually tighten up its defense and comeback through the efforts of Cayle Plastina, Jason Maglalang, Lito Oraye and Renzy Ecamin as they cut the STI WNU lead to three points in the last minute of the third quarter. Solomon would eventually cap his ten point third quarter with a free throw to end the third canto with his team up by four 61 – 57.
Ronel Panogadia with a jumper
The fourth quarter was similar to the third as STI West Negros opened the quarter with ten unanswered points to go up 71 – 57 as Solomon and Panogadia joined hands to put the Bacolod based Mustangs up with 6:37 left in the game. Unfazed by the West Negros run, the Balagtas team, also known as the Thunders, crawled back by putting up good defense until their guards ignited another rally.
Adjei blocks the ball
Renzy Ecamin and Ivan Macapagal combined for three three-pointers to get back in the game. The three pointers helped the Thunders mount their last ditch effort to salvage their season as they cut the Mustangs lead to one, 75 – 74 with 2:40 to play. Rouchi Belocura and Charry Cadase would each score one basket each to put the WNU team ahead 79 – 74. Both teams would then fail to score a basket and with 20 seconds left STI College Balagtas sued for time. After that timeout, Ivan Macapagal sank another three pointer to put the Thunder within two points with 17 seconds left. STI WNU went to the paint and Panogadia was fouled. Unfortunately, after sinking his first free throw – Panogadia and Oraye where whistled a double technical foul that disqualified Panogadia since it was his second technical foul in the game. Carumba would eventually seal the game with his free throw.
Cadase jumps high to get the ball
The Box Scores
STI WEST NEGROS (81)
Adjei 23, Solomon 21, Panogadia 16, Cadase 10, Carmona 6, Belocura 2 , Pontevedra 2, Carumba 1, Dunlap 0,
STI COLLEGE BALAGTAS (77)
Macapagal 16, Plastina 15, Ecamin 14, Reyes 9, Maglalang 5, Oraye 5, Peralta 5, Mallari 3, Joson 3, Baltazar 2, Mendoza 0, Policarpio 0,
Quarter scores: 17 – 16, 33 –27, 61 – 57, 81 – 77,