The M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu Niños bucked foul trouble to its key players and banked on their vast championship experience in the final minutes to bag the Smart Liga Pilipinas Conference III Misamis Oriental Leg by repeating over the host Misamis Oriental Meteors, 82-77, in front of a packed Xavier University Gym Saturday evening.
Point guard Woodraw Enriquez scored the last five Niño points, as he engaged Meteor gunner Patrick Cabahug in a virtual shootout in the final minute of the highly physical contest which saw Cebu guard Mark Ababon and Misor forward Arden Guiyab thrown out in separate incidents for unsportsmanlike conduct.The win was a repeat of the Niños’ 80-79 victory friday night in the leg elims and avenged the Niño’s previous series loss to the Meteors in the National Finals last conference.
With the score knotted for the last time at 71-71, Ian Saladaga, Marlon Basco and Bruce Dacia combined for six straight pressure-packed free throws that gave the Niños the lead for good with 1:48 to play, 77-71. Ramil Tagupa ended the streak with two free throws of his own off the fifth and final foul of Saladaga, 73-77, and 1:22 remaining.
After an exchange of baskets between Enriquez and Cabahug to give the Niños a 79-75 lead, the Meteors recovered a loose ball and had a chance to come closer. But Cabahug missed an open 3 point shot with 45 seconds remaining and Enriquez was fouled leading to two more free throws to seal the championship.
Power forward Ariel Mepana led the Niños with 18 points, four rebounds and four assists. Bruce Dacia followed with 16 points and five rebounds. Eder Saldua paced the Meteors of Gov. Oscar S. Moreno and Coach Jun Noel with a game-best 22 points and nine rebounds before fouling out in the fourth period. Cabahug finished with 13 markers and five rebounds.
The Niños of Michel J. Lhuillier and Coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba thus remained undefeated in eight games this conference supported by Smart,
Accel, Molten, Calcium-Cee, Gatorade, Air 21 and Burlington and sanctioned by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP). They have a perfect 30 out of a possible 30 points from two legs to pull away in the overall standings. The Meteors earned seven points in their debut performance this conference.
Meanwhile, Cebu Landmaster-Mandaue of Joe Soberano and Coach Jun Tan salvaged Third Place and three tour points with their second straight win over the MP Warriors of GenSan, 65-62.
Jerome Cenita led Mandaue with 22 points followed by John Paul Alcaraz with 11. Dondon Tadena was the top scorer for the Warriors of Manny Pacquiao and Coach Ramon Pido with 13. Weng Farochillen added 12 points and five rebounds.
The Liga Pilipinas Tour makes its next stop this Wednesday (September 16) at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City for the Quezon Province Leg. The Ninos and Meteors will continue their rivalry along with the Toyota-Bacolod Turbos and host Quezon Red Oilers.
How They Scored:
For Third Place
MANDAUE (65) – Cenita 22, Alcaraz 11, Solis 9, Latonio 7, Mercado 6, Cainglet 6, Berame 5, Aying 4, Llanto 3, Bucao 2.
GENERAL SANTOS (62) – Tadena 13, Farochillen 12, Coronado 8, Ilanga 8, Mendoza 6, Recustodio 5, Concha 4, Rubi 3, Callo 2, Medalla 1, Sagad 0, Locsin 0, Cabatu 0.
Period Scores: 16-17, 32-28, 46-48, 65-62.
CEBU (82) – Mepana 18, Dacia 16, Nailon 13, Enriquez 10, Basco 9, Saladaga 6, Santos 5, Padilla 3, Ababon 2.
MISAMIS ORIENTAL (77) – Saldua 22, Cabahug 13, Daja 9, Gudez 7, Guiyab 7, Moreno 6, Tagupa 6, Kong 3, Mamaclay 3, Barcellano 1, Butel 0.
Period Scores: 19-19, 35-34, 58-57, 82-77.