After four seasons, the Heroes finally defeated the Saints in the NCAA’s Seniors Basketball All-Star Game.
And a General and a Red Warrior made sure that it would happen.
UE legend Allan Caidic provided the spark while EAC upstart Nat Cosejo put the finish as the Heroes escaped the Saints, 98-95, Saturday at the Filoil Ecooil Centre in San Juan City.
The team composed of players from EAC, JRU, Arellano, Mapua, and Lyceum defeated the squad composed of San Beda, Letran, Perpetual Help, St. Benilde, and San Sebastian in their first three encounters while last season’s edition of the annual meet ended up in a tie.
“Actually, wala naman sikreto eh. It’s a matter lang ng hardwork ng mga players mo, tiyaka ‘yung trust talaga,” said Heroes head coach Gilbert Malabanan of Lyceum. “That’s the number one the trust na binibigay nila sa akin ‘yung binibigay ko sa kanila, and ‘yun lang naman nakikita ko na sikreto.”
This time around, a lapse by College of Saint Benilde’s Will Gozum led to a technical foul.
EAC’s Allen Liwag converted on the ensuing free throw to put the Heroes up by two, 97-95, with 12.7 ticks left.
With no choice but to foul in the next possession, Perpetual’s Jielo Razon fouled Lyceum’s Renzo Navarro with exactly 10-ticks left. Navarro split his free throws 98-95, missing the second one.
Fortunately, Cade Flores was there to secure the offensive board as the Saints finally got one.
Cosejo was crowned the Most Valuable Player of the game after finishing with 16 points, seven boards, an assist, and a steal.
“Parang nanaghinip ako. Kasi di ko naman aakalaing makakasama ako dito at makakalaro mga PBA legends,” said Cosejo, a former UST Growling Tiger.
Raheel Bhyria, who won the celebrity MVP award, got 12 points early in the first half with an assist and a steal.
Mapua’s Renz Nocum and Liwag got 11 and 10 points, respectively, with the former adding two rebounds and two assists, while the latter contributed seven rebounds and three assists.
Meanwhile, San Beda’s James Kwukuteye and Letran legend Willie Miller led the Saints with 15 and 12 points, respectively, with Kwukuteye dishing in four rebounds and five assists while Miller added two boards and two assists.
Letran’s Louie Sanggalang and celebrity Chef Sarasola both had 10 points each as well.
Despite the intense ending, it was still a celebration for the Grand Old League before the second round begins tomorrow.
Heroes (98) — Cosejo 16, Caidic 14, Bonifacio 14, Bhyria 12, Nocum 11, Liwag 10, Flores 6, Navarro 5, Doromal 4, Larupay 4, Codinera 2, Magno 0, Villasis 0, De Santos 0.
Saints (95) –– Kwekueteye 15, Miller 12, Sangalang 10, Sarasola 10, Gozum 8, Gonzales 8, Altamirano 7, Bahio 6, Aquino 6, Abis 4, Viray 4, Yu 3, Cullar 2, Razon 0, Sumoda 0, Clemente 0.
Quarterscores: 35-24, 52-52, 72-80, 98-95