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Tiebreaker Times


PCYAA: Kobe Chong, Keith Ngu end St. Jude’s misery vs Xavier

Back in the 2000s in the Tiong Lian Basketball League, Saint Jude Catholic School always essayed the role of a bridesmaid to perennial champion Xavier School.

This time, the Homer So-coached Green Knights turned the tables around, exacting revenge with a 2-0 sweep of the Golden Stallions in the best-of-three finals of the 10th Philippine Ching Yuen Athletic Association season, taking a 93-82 decision, Tuesday evening at Uno High School Gym.

Unlike its walk-in-the-park 84-62 shellacking of Xavier in the series opener, Saint Jude had to overcome 11-point disadvantage twice in the middle quarters, methodically cutting down its deficit with Swiss Army knife-like precision before registering a come-from-behind 70-63 decision in Game Two.

The seven-point advantage was its largest in the game.

The Green Knights were down 29-18, with 3:04 left in the second quarter following a steal and layup by Xavier’s J Ramon Tan Climaco. They trimmed the deficit to six points, 32-26, at lemon time even as the Golden Stallions’ meal ticket Andre Tan sustained an injury just before the half that limited his movement throughout the final 20 minutes.

Xavier was still ahead, 43-32, on a Brent Tiu triple and a pair of Hans Yu Chua free throws at the 5:45 mark of the third canto.

It was at this time that Saint Jude turned around the corner. Ethan Kaw nailed a triple and Kobe Chong had a pair of free throws and a layup off his own steal to pull within four, 43-39.

The Green Knights went over the hump on a short jumper by surprise package Keith Ngu to take their first lead, 46-45, since early in the second frame.

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Xavier still held onto a 52-50 lead at the end of the third quarter on a putback by Matt Gavin Kua and a bucket by Luis Hugo Ramirez. However, 18.4 seconds earlier mastodon Denzel Dagdag was sent to the showers after committing his fourth foul plus a technical.

Suddenly, the Golden Stallions were vulnerable around the rim.

Saint Jude opened the payoff period with a 7-0 run on consecutive baskets by Kobe Chong and a follow-up by Joshua Chu as the team was back on the driver’s seat, 57-52, with 7:04 to go.

Youngsters Andrew Choa, 15, and Andrew Chio, age 14, each knocked down a bucket as Xavier forced a deadlock at 61-all, time down to 2:30.

At crunchtime, SJCS flourished while XS blinked.

Team skipper Kendric Dela Cruz scored on a twisting shot, Kaw split his free throws and, following a passing miscue nearly at halfcourt by Xavier, Chong scooped the rock for an unmolested layup and a 66-61 advantage for Saint Jude with 1:26 left.

A Ramirez fielder sliced XS’ deficit to three, 66-63. But the lead of SJCS stretched to five once again on a putback by Ngu at the one-minute mark.

With 51.7 ticks remaining, Tiu bungled both of his free throws to seal Xavier’s fate.

Ngu, who chalked up eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, finalized the score with a pair of charity shots at the 19.4-second mark, discounting two missed freebies by Chong with 11.5 ticks remaining.

Chong, the tournament’s No. 1 scorer with over 22 points a game, drilled in 29 points along with 11 rebounds, six assists, and five steals to banner the Green Knights’ successful title quest. Kaw, the second-leading point-producer in the league with over 19 an outing, labored to get his 14 markers.

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Still, in the end, it was the elongated, silent operator Ngu who proved to be the X-factor for SJCS that Xavier failed to check out.

Xavier School, which ended the tournament with an 11-2 card, was led by Tiu, who netted 17 points, seven boards, six feeds, and three steals. A hobbling Tan posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Chua contributed nine points for the Stallions, who won the rebounding race, 66-53, but committed more turnovers, 28-16, than their rivals.

For Saint Jude Catholic School, the victory was a long-awaited triumph over their perennial rival. They had played the role of a bridesmaid for too long, but in the end, they emerged victorious, proving that anything is possible.

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