La Trinidad, Benguet – The Cordillera Career Development College Employee Admirals made sure there was no retribution taking place in Season Two of the Laity Cup. The Admirals proved steadier during clutch time by engineering a 13-1 run in the dying minutes of the championship game to repeat victory and dethrone the San Jose Alumni Joseans last Wednesday, March 11, 2015 at the San Jose Gym.
Trailing 80-87 with 3:56 remaining, Butch Diaz and Kurt Panagan came through with clutch baskets and freethrows as they fired five points a piece to complete a comeback in the critical stretch and claimed the second season’s crown.
CCDC seemed ready to repeat its opening day rout of the Joseans as they came out with guns smoking from the opening tip. Rodel Bongcato, the skills challenge champion, opened hostilities with a five-foot jumper, Panagan laid-up, and Diaz connected a baseline jumper to go up 6-1.
After Dexter Mayomis converted a lay-up, Michael Luis Apelado countered with another inside basket and Diaz, just crowned as the three point shoot-out king of the tournament, converted his first to extend the lead 11-3 and forced the Joseans into a quick time-out.
When action resumed, Apelado scored two more follow-ups and two free throws to spearhead a 12-3 run and CCDC established their biggest lead of the game at 14, 23-9, with 2:30 left and threatened to blow the game wide open.
The defending champs, however, got back in the game quickly with a scoring binge. They converted seven lay-ups against two by the Admirals in the last two minutes make it 27-24 at the end of the first. Janner Epler had two while Keatch Luma-ang also had two including a completed three-point play.
The Joseans punctuated the quarter with a Shatner Epler lay-up at the :21 mark and a mid-court steal at :12 that resulted to a Drexler Mayomis drive at :08.
Then San Jose started to pour it on. Raymond Ablin converted a drive and a three-point play, Mayomis got an assist from Keatch for a drive, and Keatch, himself, is a recipient of two dished outs from Rodney Luma-ang as the Joseans dropped a 12-3 bomb and take a 38-30 lead 4:12 left in the second.
The Joseans are not yet done as Keatch got hot. After Panagan sank a trey from top of the key, Keatch converted a trey from the right side, followed up a Josean miss, and completed a three point play as the Joseans established its biggest lead of 12, 49-37, with a minute to go.
Apelado followed up an Admiral miss and two free throws to sandwich a spectacular Josean alley-oop lay-up to Janner Epler in between his points to have the Joseans settling for a 51-41 halftime lead.
The third started with exchanged of a couple of lay-ups.
Then it was CCDC’s turn to make a run. Panagan swished two short range jumpers and a lay-up while Boncato drilled a baseline jumper and followed up his own miss as they close the gap, 61-63, with a 20-12 run.
Afterward, the heat of the rivalry between the two teams had to burst.
After a still hot Keatch Luma-ang converted a lay-up to make it 65-61, Joseph Bernal and Shatner Epler got into a stare-off and an argument will cost them each a double foul and a double technical foul with 1:14 left in the third.
When cooler heads prevailed, the T’s would send them both to the bench until the 8-minute mark of the fourth.
Wonder of wonders, this incident would work beautifully for the Admirals. Bernal, who was having an off-night, became what the Admirals needed. With the team badly lacking a voice on the sidelines, Bernal got it done on the bench what he could not do on the floor.
He would not return to action and instead became their vocal leader from the bench. And the Admirals responded. After Bongcato and Ablin exchanged baskets, Jordan Tagle, who took Bernal’s spot sank a trey from deep right corner to inch closer, 66-67, at the close of the third.
The fourth started with the Joseans converting two drives against four free throws by the Admirals. It was all tied up after Ablin drilled a mid-range jumper and Panagan sank a trey from deep right corner, 8:34 remaining.
After an exchanged of conversions, it was still a close game with San Jose up by the slimmest of margins, 81-80, time down to 5:24.
San Jose threatened its last. Two drives by Janner Epler, one right against the upright arms of Apelado, and a follow up by Mayomis made it 87-80, Joseans, as Bernal scrambled for a time-out.
After coming out of the huddle, the Admirals would be unstoppable on both ends of the floor.
Jaylo Lacaden, in for Tagle, would shut down Keatch Luma-ang while the others took care of the offense.
Panagan sank two mid-range jumpers and a freethrow to start the comeback. Bongcato connected a 5 foot leaner to tie it all up, 87-all, 1:46 left. Panagan stole the ball in the next play that would lead to a Diaz trey as CCDC takes the lead, 90-87, time down to 1:25.
Another CCDC defense alignment would lead to a Josean miss and Diaz would sank two freethrows after intentionally fouled, 92-87, just under a minute left. Then the CCDC defense would again forced a traveling violation at the 53 second mark.
While the Joseans would get the ball back, they would run out of time to reverse the deficit. An exchange of freethrows would finally end the game and the season.