Top North Division teams Quezon City and Caloocan turned back their respective semifinal counterparts to arrange a finals' showdown, while Las Pinas prevailed over No.1 Makati to earn the right to face Bacoor City Agimat in the South Division championship of the Metro League 17-under boys' basketball tournament Saturday afternoon at the Caloocan Sports Complex.
Blessed with twice-to-beat incentives in the Final Four as the first and second seeded squads, the Junior Capitals manhandled fourth-ranked Solid San Juan-PC Gilmore, 73-54, while Caloocan-Arceegee smothered No. 3 team Valenzuela-San Marino, 73-59, setting up a one-game championship for the North Division title next Tuesday at the Strike Gym in Bacoor City.
No. 4 Las Pinas, meanwhile, defeated erstwhile twice-to-beat and No. 1 seed Makati with a 65-57 win in their rubber match to set a date with host Bacoor City Agimat also on Tuesday for the South Division crown of the M-League that is backed by the Metro Manila Development Authority and the Philippine Basketball Association, with Barangay 143 as league presentor.
Jeremy Uy dropped 19 markers, while Alfonso Buot registered a double-double of 18 markers and 14 rebounds to lead the way for the Junior Capitals who limited the Junior Knights to just five points in the second period.
That stinging defense in the second frame proved to be the early killer blow for San Juan as Quezon City coasted along the rest of the way to the victory which was their sixth straight in as many games after topping the North elims with a perfect 5-0 slate.
Renwelle Valeros and Ferdinand Mabazza scored 12 markers apiece for Solid San Juan-PC Gilmore, which bid goodbye to this year’s tourney for 17-and-under cagers that is also bankrolled by Synergy 88, World Balance, Excellent Noodles and San Miguel Corporation as major sponsors.
In the other game, Caloocan-Arceegee buried Valenzuela right way at the start of the first quarter, 18-2, and never looked back since then for an easy victory.
John Sherick Estrada and Denniere Pancho paced the Junior Supremos with 22 and 20 points, respectively while Nickos Andrei Santos also added 14 markers.
Amiel Mendoza,for his part, had 17 points and nine rebounds for Valenzuela which was shown the exit door of the M-League boys tourney that also has SMS Global Technologies, Inc. as official livestream and technology partner, Spalding as official ball, Team Rebel Sports as official outfitter, PLDT as official internet service provider and Manila Bulletin as media partner.
But all eyes were locked on the Las Piñas squad which registered the biggest upset in the playoffs, reaching the South Division Finals despite being the lowest-ranked squad entering the Final Four.
Riding the crest of a thrilling 67-66 win in their first semis meeting to drag the series into a sudden death, there was no stopping the fourth-seeded Las Pinas as it went on to complete an upset win against top-ranked Makati behind the heroics of ace gunnerand tournament leading scorer Jericho Reyes.
Reyes racked up 33 points on 9-of-16 shooting in just 34 minutes of play to go along seven rebounds, three assists and a whooping nine steals to will Las Pinas to its third victory in as many games against Makati dating back to the eliminations.
Backstopping Reyes were John Cedrick Panganiban, Charles Cayabyab and Jericho Montero who scored only six points eachbut proved to be more than enough for Las Piñas which now has a chance to continue its dream run in the playoffs of thetourney that is also supported by Gerry’s Grill, Summit Water, Alcoplus, Nature’s Spring and Goodfellow.
Ryan Dayle Celis, on the other hand, put up 20 points and six rebounds for Makati which had its four-game winning streak snapped on its way to an unlikely M-League exit after topping the South Division in the elimination round.
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