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All set for USLS vs RST face-off in UNBL finals

May 23, 2023

In the picture, USLS-Fyr Fyter Mark June De La Cruz (left) celebrates with John Edmund Escultura for their successful play that forced an overtime.* (Alan Su photo)

Top seeded University of St. La Salle (USLS)-Fyr Fyter and No. 2 Royal Star Trading (RST) advanced to the championship in a pair of down the wire encounter in the 1st United Negros Basketball League (UNBL) 25-Under Open Tournament at the Tay Tung High School’s Po Hang Gymnasium in Bacolod City. Championship game and battle for third will be on Sunday, May 28 at the same venue.

USLS snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as they outlasted Colegio De San Agustin-Bacolod (CSA-B) Sportswear in extra time, 66-59, while RSTproved steadier in the endgame to trip Davies Paints Phils, 94-90.

USLS, facing a 57-55 deficit with 3.5 seconds left, designed a perfect play with Mark June De La Cruz inbounded an alley-hoop crosscourt pass to John Edmund Escultura for the tying basket.

In extra time after Strived Rowel Negro scored the tying basket that also coincided with teammate Mycco Deposoy went down with cramps with more than 4 minutes left, USLS turned up their defense to another level as they kept CSA-B scoreless for the rest of the way.

The first half was a slugfest as both teams were tied at 14-all in the 1st quarter and CSA-B took the lead at halftime 27-26.

USLS opened the 3rd quarter on a 13-3 run to take a 39-30 lead at the 4:45 mark, and they remained on top at the end of the quarter 49-39 behind a balance offense led by Escultura with 6 points.

USLS continued to keep their 10- point lead at 53-43 with a Terence Buenafe layup with 7:16 seconds left in the payoff quarter.

However, Strived Sportswear regrouped and blanked the No. 1 seed for more than 5 minutes as they rallied behind the aggressive play of Mycco Deposoy who strung up with six straight points to force a deadlock at 53-all with 2:17 seconds left.

Keith Rhaileen Ortillano broke the dry spell for USLS with a layup but AJ Ondon knocked down a right quarter court triple to give the lead back to CSA-B. Both teams could not get a basket in the ensuing plays until USLS forced to foul Ondon with 3.5 seconds left, he knocked down 1 of 2 free throws leaving the door open for the USLS equalizer.

Escultura and Martin Jay Beatingo II starred for USLS with 11 points apiece; De La Cruz and Andrie Dubouzet added 10 points each; Ivan Macabani shot 6, Ortillano made 5, Lenz Catalan hit 3, Buenafe and Bonn Ernest Daja with 2, Riggy Alinsoring and Nelbert Minerva had 1- point apiece.

Deposoy and Negro submitted 13 points each; Jemar Cepriano unloaded 12, Kenneth Malazarte posted 9, Ondon chipped in 8, Manu Villareal and Mico Exaltado hit 2 markers apiece.

RST avenged their elimination round loss to Davies Paints Phils just 2 weeks ago by the same margin.

RST, playing with a sense of urgency erected a 30-19 opening quarter lead, as 10 players contributed for RST.

Davies cut the deficit to 42-35 in the 2nd quarter on a JB Co 3- point answering the 5 straight points by RST Janlee Torrecampo.

George Magalso scored the last 5 points for RST to keep them on the driver’s seat at the break 55-44.

The 3 guard lineup Davies in the 3rd quarter proved effective as Mark Ray Dubouzet caught fire in delivering 14 points with 3 triples and getting support from teammates Ken Jay Sarco, John Louie Mermida and Garrucho combining for 13 points to cut the deficit to 74-73.

Davies remained within striking distance while RST always found a way to score to take 4 and 5 points lead. Davies Paints finally caught up with RST on a JB Co top of the key triple at 88-all.

Co also attempted a floater in the ensuing play that rimmed out that would have given Davies the lead. A Licawan basket with 36.1 seconds left, followed by a Magalso and Edsel Manday two free throws apiece sealed the finals outcome of RST.

Fourteen of the 15 players fielded by Coach Felix Garrido spearheaded by John Lloyd Licawan 12 points, backstopped by Torrecampo 11 points, Saldy Christopher Macabatao drilled 9; Magalso, Mel Brandon Berrueda, Joshua Genesis Vincoy, Philip John Majometano, and Justine Ragay nailed 7 points apiece; Reymart Carano-o and Jules Garcia with 6 points each; Manday dropped 5, Jeorem Cabaylo and Ranier Karl Estrada had 4 points each and Rafael Catalonia netted 2 points.

Dubouzet and Co led Davies with 17 points; Sarco added 15; Mermida with 13 wound up points, James Garrucho put in 8, Kent Macalalag submitted 7, Jerlo Faltiquera hit 4, Shannon Sealey and Timothy Villanueva produced 2 points each, Hurricane Tipon with a point.* (Cyrus M. Garde)


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