An offensive putback from Patick Dave Yulo and a layup from Emmanuel Bernales with less than a minute left in the game sealed the win for University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos against defending champion West Negros University, 51-48, in the quarterfinals of the NOPSSCEA high school boys’ basketball at the WNU Gym, Saturday.
With WNU junior Mustangs up by a point, 48-47, Yulo’s putback allowed the young Rams to take the lead in the dying seconds of the game.
The junior Mustangs failed to score in their next possession while UNO-R managed to get another two points from Bernales for a three-point advantage.
With still a few seconds left, WNU’s attempt for a quick three-point fell on the wayside allowing UNO-R to get away with the victory and advance to the semifinals against Bacolod Tay Tung High School.
The tightly-contested game had the young Rams, mentored by Rolando “Girom” Aledron, taking the lead in the low-scoring first quarter, 8-6, and a hairline 29-28 margin at halftime against Dennis Tumayan’s junior Mustangs.
Bernales scored 12 of his 19 total points in the first half to lead the Recoletos while Jude Fel Junto had 17 points for the Wesnecans in the first two quarters of the game.
Trading baskets in the third quarter, the two teams were never buckled down from the pressure and continued snapping at each other’s heels ending the quarter at 36-35 in favor of UNO-R.
Aside from Bernales and Yulo, the junior Rams got a boost from Steven Enema who finished with 9 points, while Isaac Dela Torre added 6 points.
With UNO-R’s defense focused on him in the second half, Junto was limited to a single in the final two quarters and finished the game with 18 points while Phil Pajanconi stepped up and contributed 13 points for the Mustangs.
Meanwhile, tournament leader St. John’s Institute formalized its entry in the semifinals with a 78-71 win against University of St. La Salle-Integrated School.
The SJI Blue Falcons will face the St. Joseph School-La Salle in the semifinals on November 30 at 1 p.m., while UNO-R and BTTHS will clash in the second game at 2:30 p.m.
Tay Tung head coach Bobby Tee said his team will try its best against the taller line-up of UNO-R.
He said the BTTHS Blue Dragons are happy in the final four of this year’s NOPSSCEA season and they will put up a good fight against the junior Rams in the semifinals.
Coach Dexter Dy of SJI, meanwhile said whoever will advance in the best-of-three championship round will have a tough schedule ahead of them next weekend.
Game 1 in the finals will be played on December 1 and Game 2 the next day. In case of Game 3, it will be played on the afternoon of December 2.
Dy said they need to finish the tournament next weekend to allow the champion team to select the players who will compose the NOPSSCEA that will compete in the provincial meet starting on December 16.*NAB
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