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Tiebreaker Times


James Ison atones for late-game blunder with finals-clinching stop

By: Rom Anzures

La Salle Green Hills secured their spot in the finals of the NCAA Season 98 Juniors’ Basketball Final Four after a nail-biting finish against San Beda-Rizal.

But the closing sequence of the game was definitely a tense one for the Greenies.

With just 12 seconds left on the clock and a single possession lead, Greenies’ head coach Renren Ritualo instructed his team to set up a down screen for James Ison and wait for his defenders to foul him.

But the 5-foot-10 floor general out of San Juan City made a crucial error, dribbling the ball off his foot and giving San Beda a chance to tie or win the game.

Ison, however, redeemed himself on the defensive end, diving for the ball and successfully stealing it off a pass by John Lopez to Christopher Hubilla. As if it was part of the original play, Ison was then fouled by the Red Cubs, and he made both attempts to secure the finals berth for the Greenies.

“Para sakin talaga yun eh, in case ifoul ako ng kalaban ako talaga yung magtetake ng two free throws,” quipped Ison, a Grade 11 senior, after their 89-85 escape of the Red Cubs to punch their ticket to the Finals.

“After ng possession nag stick ako don sa play. Hindi ko hinayaan yung turnover na ‘yon na maging hadlang samin. Naging accountable ako dun sa turnover.”

Despite his heroics, Ison remains grounded, acknowledging that he still needs to level up his game, especially since they are set to face top-seeded Letran in the finals.

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“Marami pa kong kailangang trabahuhin,” he said.

“Pag pasok ko dun, kailangan buong buo yung puso ko.”

For the Greenies, the finals appearance is their first since 2018, and Ison’s performance has been instrumental in their success.

He finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and five assists, but he knows that he needs to be even better in the finals against the more physical Letran defense.

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