Coming off a heartbreaking loss in the UAAP Season 80 Juniors Basketball Finals just 21 days ago, Nazareth School of National University did not allow themselves to be on the bad side of history again.
The Bullpups survived a late surge by Joel Cagulangan and the La Salle Green Hills Greenies, 80-78, to claim the 2018 Exped Socks SM-NBTC National Championship, Friday evening.
This is the Bullpups’ second national championship in the last three years. Moreover, this is Goldwin Monteverde’s first major championship.
“Siyempre very challenging talaga yung liga, siyempre from 32 teams, mage-end up ka sa number one. Masaya talaga para sa amin,” shared Monteverde, as the Bullpups had to go through Tay Tung High School, Adamson Univeristy, FilAm Sports, and Sacred Heart School to get to the Final.
But it could not have been possible if it were not for the timely stops the Bullpups made to close out the game.
After leading by as much as 13 points in the contest and 11 points with 4:33 left, Joel Cagulangan single-handedly powered the Greenies to an 11-0 run. The rally was capped by a strong drive to the basket by the top high school floor general in the country with 49.5 seconds left to knot the game at 77-all.
Gerry Abadiano was able to overpower Macoy Marcos to the rim, drawing a foul and knocking down both free throws to put the Bullpups up 20 seconds later.
“As expected naman si Gerry talaga sa ilang beses na nakasama ko siya, even in tough games makikita mo na nagde-deliver siya,” Monteverde beamed about Abadiano, who was his player in Adamson two years ago. “Ang maganda both ends of the floor, nakakapag-play siya ng good defense and at the same time, sa offense din.”
Off a timeout, Cagulangan was able to fish a foul from Paul Manalang. After making the first free throw, he muffed the second one. Former NU Bullpup Mark Sangco was there for the offensive rebound but Cagulangan’s attempt was swatted away by Michael Malonzo.
A split on the stripe by Rhayyan Amsali gave La Salle a shot, but Sidney Mosqueda struggled to give a good inbound that led to a desperation heave by Fornilos, which unfortunately did not go in.
“Siguro for one, sometimes may mga bitter lessons din like yung last season namin sa UAAP, it boiled down to last two possessions,” Monteverde recalled about Game 3 of the UAAP Season 80 Finals that saw them squander a six-point lead late that led to a 58-63 defeat. “Pero nakita naman natin itong tournament kung paano sila dumepensa nung huli. Nakita naman natin nag-improve talaga yung team.”
Abadiano — who was crowned as the Final’s Most Outstanding Player — had 24 points, six rebounds, and two steals. Cyril Gonzales and Terrence Fortea finished with 12 and 11 markers respectively.
Cagulangan, the Most Outsanding Player of the tournament, led La Salle with 25 points. Fornilos, on the other hand, filled up the stat sheet with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds and four blocks.
Earlier in the day, the La Salle-Lipa Chevrons won their second division championship by getting the better of the Letran Bataan Squires, 49-44, in the ultimate matchup of the 2018 Darlington SM NBTC Division 2 National Finals.
Matthew Virtucio was the hero for the Batangueños, scoring 15 points, including the back-to-back triples inside the last five minutes that erased a one-point deficit and erected a 44-40 lead in favor of his team.
NSNU 80 — Abadiano 24, Gonzales 12, Fortea 11, Amsali 8, Quiambao 8, Coyoca 5, Minerva 4, Tamayo 4, Malonzo 2, Oczon 2, Javillonar 0, Manalang 0.
LSGH 78 — Cagulangan 25, Fornilos 18, Marcos 17, Sangco 7, Mosqueda 6, Espinosa 3, Lao 2, Cruz 0, Lapalam 0, Morales 0, Natividad 0.
Quarterscores: 23-23, 40-35, 63-54, 80-78.