Olivarez College ousted defending champion Diliman College with a dominant 72-57 victory in their do-or-die semis match in the 5th PG Flex Linoleum-Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Thursday at the Paco Arena in Manila.
The Sea Lions simply showed more sense of urgency in the sudden death, outworking and outplaying the Blue Dragons who always looked a step slower against their counterparts.
The big explosion came in the third where Olivarez dropped a telling 19-0 run that turned a close 38-32 lead into a huge 25-point lead, 57-32, late in the period to seize full control of the contest and move on to the best-of-three Finals against the still undefeated Centro Escolar University.
Game 1 of the Finals is set on Monday, Jan. 31 still at the Paco Arena.
The Sea Lions never looked back from there as it also successfully exorcised the ghost of the past and eliminated Diliman – same team that dealt them heartbreaks during the last season’s Finals
It was a total team effort for Olivarez with Mark Gallano leading the way with a double-double 17 points and 17 rebounds while Lance De Leon scattered 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.
John Uduba continued to shine for the Sea Lions with 11 points while Edmund Dela Cruz was a workhorse on the board with 13 rebounds on top of his six points
Olivarez actually had to go through a more difficult path to the finale after ending up as the fourth seed in the stepladder semifinals.
It defeated Philippine Christian University-Dasmarinas first before overcoming Diliman’s twice-to-beat advantage to get another shot of finally winning the elusive UCBL title.
Robbi Darang paced the Blue Dragons with 16 points and eight assists while John Pedrosa added 14 – all of which, however, went down the drain.