Top Benguet teams clash in Congressional Cup finale

>> Monday, November 20, 2023

 Provincial basketball tourney 

LA TRINIDAD, Benguet -- Bokod and La Trinidad 1 reached the finals Monday evening after disposing their semi – final rivals in the Cong. Eric Go Yap Congressional Cup here at the Benguet Sports Complex.    
    La Trinidad took the first finals seat after beating Itogon, 98-86, on a night when Armando Pollante was absent.
Even with the absence of one of its key player, Trinidad 1 took an early lead, thanks to long hitters Jason Alvaran, Will Kean Lee and Kean Zachary Diaz as they raced to a 10 point lead before settling to a 49-41 halftime lead.
    Trinidad 1 raced to its biggest lead at 14 in the third canto and finished that period with a 76-63 lead.
    “We have to be more aggressive on defense due to a key player being absent. We can’t win without (good) defense,” Lee said.
    Aside from Pollante, La Trinidad also missed the services of Neil Ulep, recently elected as SK Chairman of Barangay Buyagan who needed to attend a meeting of the SK Federation.      
    Coach Jong del Rosario said the team stepped up on all fronts of the court as they limited Itogon’s  top gunners.  
    “With no Pollante and Ulep, everybody stepped – up. We have to stop Kim Padawag then we we took advantage on our speed with Chad Villanueva and Omer Baluch inside, and it clicked,” added del Rosario.
    Lee led Trinidad 1 with 23 points on top of eight rebounds and eight assists and three steals while Jason Alvaran, Kean Diaz and John Tuazon chipped 17, 15 and 12 markers in that order.
    Padawag led Itogon with 24 while Villanueva and Jude Quitolbo, who was hobbled with four fouls  as early as the third canto, added 15 and 13 markers a piece.
    Top seed Bokod also made it to the finals after escaping Tuba in the other half of the semi – final match.    
    After a 9-2 Tuba run to start the fourth quarter and see its lead down to nine from 25 points, Bokod took control of the game late in the canto to walk with the 76-62 win.
    Bokod wanted no complications and follow second seed La Trinidad 1 to the finals as soon as possible when it opened a 21-13 first quarter lead which ballooned to 18, 43-25, at halftime.
    League scoring leader Cyril de Vera was practically a no show in the first 15 minutes of action as youthful Fruto Luzadas III practically took the yeoman's task of lifting Tuba's waivering spirit.
    Rey Gabino took over the offensive thrust for the top seed in the second canto scoring 10 of the team’s 22 point production.
    His fellow former Cordillera Career Development College player Darwin Fernandez contributed exactly a third of Bokod’s first quarter output of 21 points.
    With Ramil Alimba draining a put back on a Kendrick Joseph miss with 3:09 to go in the third canto.
okod made it a 56-31 lead, a big 25 point advantage but Tuba mounted a 10-1 run for a 57-41lead.
    Buenaventyra summed the third to fourth quarter Tuba run when he said: “Collapse sa defense sa third and Cyril (de Vera) explode.”
    Buenaventura led Bokod with 20 points, eight rebounds, two assists and four steals.
Fernandez, Gabino and Alimba chipped in 12, 10 and 10 points for Bokod . Gabino scored all his points in the second quarter alone.
    Luzadas led Tuba with 18 points, while de Vera and John Cedric Pugong added 16 and 10 a piece with the latter hauling 12 boards. -- MSD


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