The winning streak finally came to a halt, but St. John’s Institute managed to secure the No. 2 spot to advance in today’s semifinals of the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas National Juniors Championship Under 16 in Baguio City.
The SJI Falcons succumbed to La Union College of Nursing, Arts and Sciences, 84-78, yesterday to share the 4-1 win-loss record in the elimination with University of Visayas and LUCNAS.
Having a higher quotient after routing St. Clare of Caloocan, UV snared the No. 1 spot while SJI, who tamed UV in their first game, 99-91, landed in No. 2. Only the top two teams were given the seat to the semifinals.
In today’s encounter among the Final 4, the Falcons from Bacolod City will face Sacred Heart of Jesus Montessori from Cagayan de Oro, which topped the other bracket after beating University of Sto. Tomas in the elimination. It will be UV against UST in the other semifinal match-up.
Should SJI prevail against Cagayan, they will dispute the crown tomorrow against the winner in the UV vs. UST game.
Having the smallest lineup in the tournament, it is already an accomplishment for SJI to get into the semifinals, Stephen Tan of SJI Alumni Association said.
Every game they won in the elimination, he said, was worth celebrating.
Against the La Union team yesterday, SJI stayed close in the opening quarter, trailing by a point at 16-17 going into the second canto.
La Union’s lead ballooned to 43-31 at halftime despite Kirell Brahndon Montalbo scoring 12 points, Thirdy Montinola’s 9 markers, and Leland Francis Dusban contributing 6 points for the Falcons.
SJI tried to cut the lead in the third quarter as Carlo Sian and Montalbo combined for 15 points, but La Union remained ahead at 65-53 going into the payoff quarter.
A fourth quarter rally led by Montalbo and Jai Arroyo cut the deficit to two points at 76-78 with still two minutes left, but Arroyo and Montalbo fouled out in the final seconds of the game, allowing La Union to get away with the win.
Montalbo topscored for SJI with 33 points, while Montinola tallied 13, Sian picked up 11 points, Dusaban added 11, Arroyo delivered 8, and Alec Rojas had 4 points.*NAB
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