Milo Pasarelle 

Xavier University High School recently swept the Mindanao Finals of the MILO sponsored BEST Center Passerelle Basketball Tournament that was held in General Santos City.

Led by Cagayan de Oro Eliminations MVP Rhys Jefferson Flores, the Junior Crusaders beat Norte Dame of Dadiangas, Ateneo de Zamboanga and Ateneo de Davao. Flores played the hero’s role in the championship game against Ateneo de Davao banging in 3 straight triples to rally the Pueblo de Oro-based squad from 14 points down, 21-35 at the half. The final score is 57-53.

The CDO-based cagers applied a suffocating full court press at the start of the 3rd period with legitimate point guard Jeff Flores converting easy baskets from steals. The suffocating defense of the Cagayan de Oro dribblers confused the opposition scoring only 2 points in the 3rd quarter allowing the XU quintet to lead by a precarious 1 point, 38-37.

In the final period, high-leaping power forward Josephus Jason Abao is sent back together with guards Angelo Galeon and Neil Malagar to help Flores.

The battle plan of Xavier’s coaching staff pays off because right at the start of the 4th quarter, Ateneo de Davao committed four consecutive turnovers.

The line-up is star-studded. Three are veterans of Tacloban City Palarong Pambansa, one is a stand-out at the Puerto Princesa Palarong Pambansa and six are National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) projects in Rhys Jefferson Flores, Jason Abao, Mark Malferrari, Anjo Galeon, Neil Malagar and Kim Paza. The NBTC projects, except Malferrari and Galeon, were veterans of the 2007 Palarong Pambansa held at Koronadal City. Since the return of the annual National Games in 2007, Northern Mindanao is a perennial top 5 finisher in cage tourney.

The National Finals is slated in Baguio City on November 22-22, 2009.

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