Maybe what the boys needed was a pep talk, after all — from no less than the University President Jose Ramon T. Villarin, SJ. The Xavier University Crusaders came up big in the final quarter, breaking a tight game open to upset the Cagayan de Oro College-PHINMA Scorpions, winning the COSAA men’s basketball title, 88-76.

The win enabled XU to compete for the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) Mindanao regionals, slated on November 4-7 at XU Gym.

Senior Ephraim Dahilan had 17 points and freshman Noel Yaranon 15 for the Crusaders. Herson Gayla paced the Scorpions’ attack with 21.

The Crusaders, battling with foul trouble throughout the game, had enough nerves to stem an early fourth quarter rally by the Scorpions who came to within four, 66-70, before clutch shooting bailed XU out.

Nakaminus ang COC sa amo,” Coach Rocky Calingin said. “They [the Crusaders] never gave up. From the first man to the last man, we were a team.”

The Scorpions dictated the first quarter, quickly jumping off to a 7-2 lead. The Crusaders regained their composure, but the Scorpions lead after 10 minutes, 19-18.

XU tasted its first lead in the second quarter, 20-19. But COC regained and raised it up to 27-23 with 6:29 left in the half. That would be the Scorpions’ last hold of the lead in the game as the Crusaders embarked to a 16-3 run to a 39-30 XU advantage at the half.

The Crusaders stretched to their biggest lead at fourteen early in the third quarter, 44-30. XU was plagued with foul problems and went into the penalty situation, enabling COC to claw their way back to striking distance.

COC staged a comeback in the fourth, managing to keep themselves close with the Crusaders. Fouling took its toll on XU as Yaranon, Arjay Demecillo and Bee Datinguinoo fouled out midway through the period. Dahilan then took charge, breaking the backs of the Scorpions with a five-point swing of his own, putting the game beyond doubt.

“Same approach. Dili mutaas ang among tiil sa yuta. Relax lang. Talent cannot win a basketball game. Ang system nakapadaog,” Calingin said on the team’s prospects on the regionals.

The STI College Olympians won the third-place game by default, 41-36, after the Capitol University Stallions walked out of the game in the third quarter due to the referee’s awarding of the Olympians of free throws on a non-shooting foul in the third quarter.

Scores:

XU 88 – Dahilan 17, Yaranon 15, Gemino 11, Demecillo 10, Orquiza 7, Popera 6, Labitad 4, Sabal 4, Besinga 3, Datinguinoo 3, Palomar 2, Gue 2, Quirit II 2, Sol 2.

COC-PHINMA 76 – Gayla 21, Custan 12, Salvador 11, Hinampas 11, Pahilan 8, Buna 5, Claunan 3, Catipay 3, Macarayo 2.

Quarter scores: 18-19, 39-30, 57-50, 88-76.

article by John Kenneth E. Ching of The Crusader

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