Syrex Silorio stole the show as Colegio de San Juan de Letran drew first blood in the NCAA Season 98 Juniors Basketball Tournament Finals, winning 85-81 against La Salle Green Hills on Monday at the San Andres Sports Complex.
With the victory, the Squires are now only one win away from their 13th juniors title and their first since 2001.
Silorio’s breakout game came at the perfect time as he finished with 27 points on 48-percent shooting, seven rebounds, and three assists.
“Well, he really worked hard. I saw it. Not only in this game, but during practices, I saw his focus that he really wanted to win this. That’s why he is one of our x-factors, which I have been looking at before because knowing Syrex, he’s always there. Sometimes he gets eight points, sometimes 10 points, but the kid has a great heart. I did not expect 27 points from him,” said Squires head coach Allen Ricardo.
Tied at 68-all at the start of the fourth quarter, Luis Pablo scored a tough and-one basket to give the Greenies a two-point 72-70 lead. The Squires then answered back with a four-point swing capped by an Andy Gemao jam, 74-72, right before entering the halfway mark of the final period.
From there, Letran did not look back as Titing Manalili and Syrex Silorio launched back-to-back threes, giving their team an 85-76 advantage, their biggest in the game, with 2:42 minutes remaining.
The Greenies were able to trim it to four, 81-85, with Seven Gagate’s layup and Christian Mesias’ triple, but unfortunately for them, time was not on their side as Letran took game one.
“Medyo flat kami nung first half, but I just told the boys na just focus on the little things. Don’t stop playing defense, and sa opensa, once we forced them to a turnover or getting those defensive rebounds, we tried to push the ball. So kailangan lang natin makakuha ng momentum para magtuloy-tuloy. Sa awa ng Diyos, pagdating ng second half, nakuha natin,” said Ricardo.
The Squires were even trailing by 12 at one point in the second frame after a Gagate bucket, giving them a 44-32 advantage. Luckily for them, they were able to trim it to as close as three, 41-44, scoring nine straight buckets led by Silorio.
Gemao also showed up in his first NCAA Finals game with 21 markers, 14 boards, five dimes, and three steals, while George Diamante was also solid with 12 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, and four rejections.
On the other hand, Luis Pablo led the Greenies with a double-double of 22 points, 19 rebounds, an assist, two steals, and two blocks. Rod Alian scored 14 markers, seven boards, four dimes, and three swipes, while Gagate had 12 points, 13 rebounds, and three assists.
Game Two will be on Thursday at 2:30 PM, still at the same venue.
Letran (85) — Silorio 27, Gemao 21, Diamante 12, Manalili 9, Alforque 4, Anabo 4, Baliling 3, Hugo 2, Navarro 2, Cruz 1.
LSGH (81) –– Pablo 22, Alian 14, Gagate 12, Ison 10, Mesias 10, Rivero 6, Gomez 5, Romero 2, Zaragosa 0.
Quarterscores: 17-22, 41-44, 65-64, 85-81.