La Trinidad, Benguet – It was Isaac’s turn to comeback from an early deficit, properly adjust to a defense thrown at them and countered with one of their own surprises to take home a trophy. After three frustrations, Isaac read the defense properly to concoct an antidote and finally grabbed a second Strawberry Cup crown last Wednesday, June 3, 2015, at the La Trinidad Municipal Gymnasium.
Down by 13 early in the second quarter against Happy Homes, Isaac rallied to take a halftime lead going in the third and ward off spirited rallies from the opposition by counter punching to pull off a 94-87 victory in the championship game of Bracket C.
Isaac frustrations must have been over the roof as Happy Homes came out guns ablaze, establishing a 10 point first quarter lead, 26-16, anchored on the eight points of Dennis Billanes. A triple each from Errol Rebolado and a side JV Imson against a three-point play by George Carino brought the lead at its highest for Happy Homes, 32-19.
Isaac, however, cannot be denied on this one. John Batulan stole twice and connected both with lay-ups, got another off an inbounds pass and drove in one more basket to led a 16-2 counter attack to grab the lead, 35-34, 5:35 left in the first half.
After Happy Homes retook the lead with an 8-3 blast, Isaac dropped a 14-6 counter punch to go into the third with a four point spread, 52-48. Vic Nunez and Alfredo Cadiz, Jr had four each while Nelson Turtoga and George Carino scored three each in the run. Both teams exchange baskets at the onset of the third, Isaac still up, 72-66, 2:20 left. A 9-2 attack to close the third got them looking good to take their first win as there are now up by 13, 81-68 with one full quarter more to go.
Then Happy Homes employed a technique that another Isaac team cannot solve just three nights ago. The faster Happy Homes team got into full court press mode. After two freebies by Billanes against a free throw by Cadiz made it 82-70, Happy Homes cameback in the game with a 13-4 run to cut the lead to just three, 87-83, time down to 2:54.
One big difference though is, as early as the Happy Homes was making the press, Isaac countered with assigning Carino to man Billanes wherever he goes. It proved to be the difference as Carino was able to limit Billanes’ ball touches and just to three points since the 12 point lead, all coming from the line. Billanes, already with 16 at that time, was the main orchestrator of the Happy Homes fastbreak and their main scorer.
A trey by Cadiz on top of the key made it 90-83, 2:30 to go. Billanes droved, fished Cadiz’s final foul, and sank one of two to inch closer, 90-84, 2:26 left. More opportunities came but each time Happy Homes failed to convert. At the 2:02 mark, Isaac was whistled for a shot clock violation. Happy Homes turned it over, however, as Carino knocked in a freethrow and Nunez dribbled the time away until the last possible second where John Batulan connected on a midrange jumper to beat the buzzer, 93-84, 1:33 left.
Don Quijano sank a trey at the 58 second mark to keep the hopes of Happy Homes alive and went on an intentional fouling spree to stop the clock. Each time Isaac missed both but each time Happy Homes failed to capitalized. Quijano missed a trey after Batulan missed from the line. They then send Nunez to the line who missed both but Billanes’s trey attempt rimmed out. Nunez was again sent to the line and connect one for two. Rebolado missed his rainbow try as the final buzzer sounded.
“It refreshing but it was both luck and playing hard.” said team manager Sherwin Galgala to described their victory.
Isaac 94: Alfredo Cadiz, Jr. 26, Nelson Turtoga 17, John Batulan 14, George Carino 14, Sherwin Galgala 8, Vernie Pelayo 8, Vic Nunez 7.
Happy Homes 87: Dennis Billanes 19, Allan Intevalo 16, Marc Candido 14, Francis Sandoval 10, Don Quijano 9, Errol Rebolado 8, JV Imson 6, Reagan Somera 4, Marlon Castro 1, James Intervalo, Ricky Atillano.
Quarterscores: 16-26, 52-48, 81-68, 94-87. 3 point shots made: Cadiz 4, Carino 2, Rebolado 2, Imson 2, Quijano 1. Freethrows made: Cadiz 6, Turtoga 5, Carino 2, Nunez 1, Candido 6, Billanes 5, Somera 2, Castro 1.