MANILA, Philippines – The National University (NU) Bullpups Team C and the Colegio de San Benildo Blazing Wolves pulled a pair of upsets to win titles in the SeaOil Metro Manila Basketball League (MMBL) Finals last Sunday at the San Beda Gym in Manila.
The Bullpups blew away the San Beda Red Cubs Team D with an incandescent shooting display in the fourth quarter to clinch the Division Four championship, 80-58.
NU shooting guard Oliver de Guzman caught fire in the fourth period, breaking open what had been a close match up to that point.
De Guzman scored 12 of his 18 points in the final quarter, including a spinning lay-up and a pair of three-pointers to tow NU to the championship.
San Beda’s Shawn Velarde and John Mark Lagumen combined for 43 points in the contest, but both were shut down in the final period as the Bullpups outscored the Red Cubs 23-9.
Karl Peñano and Paul Pujante each scored 13 points for NU.
Meanwhile, the Blazing Wolves bucked early turnover problems and poor decision-making to turn back San Beda, 77-64, and win their first MMBL title in Division Three.
In an eventful game that featured a player-coach confrontation, it was Blazing Wolves’ forward Jordan Sta. Ana who stepped up to carry the scoring cudgels for his squad.
Sta. Ana finished with a game-high 24 points on an assortment of daredevil drives, pull-up jumpers and three-pointers.
Sta. Ana was helped by teammate Jayson Cervantes, who struck the telling blows when he scored nine points in the final four minutes of the contest.
But for all the firepower brought by Sta. Ana and Cervantes, it was reserve forward Dunray Geraldo who helped inspire his team to victory.
Early in the game, Blazing Wolves coach Christian Coronel called for time following a 6-0 San Beda run that allowed the Red Cubs to take a 27-26.
Coronel struck Geraldo on the chest during the huddle after he turned the ball over and got lost in their offensive set. The blow was a little harder than Coronel intended and the crowd of San Benildo supporters inside the San Beda gym let out a collective gasp.
But the incident galvanized the Blazing Wolves, who had playing sloppy basketball up to that point with 13 turnovers.
San Benildo took a 34-32 lead at halftime, though San Beda came out of the break on fire to re-take a 41-36 lead.
Coronel decided to bring back Geraldo to the game and the player responded, eventually leading to Blazing Wolves to a 55-47 lead that they would not relinquish.
Cervantes' fourth-quarter explosion would seal the deal for San Benildo as they clinched their first MMBL championship.