MANILA -- It was supposed to be a battle royale – the perennial king of high school caging versus the emerging power from Binondo.
However, the Chiang Kai Shek College Blue Dragons made the finals of the Metro Manila Basketball League (MBBL) a thoroughly one-sided affair with an 80-62 demolition of San Beda College on Sunday in the Red Cubs’ own gym in Mendiola in front of disbelieving eyes.
Chiang Kai Shek, behind one of the top high school players all over the country in John Galinato, got going from the opening tip and never allowed the home team to tie, much less taste the lead, in the third oldest high school league in the country (after the NCAA and the UAAP).
Chiang Kai Shek took the opening quarter, 25-8, and never looked back.
“Naunahan namin sila,” modestly assessed Galinato who tallied a game-high 19 points to go with a rebound, steal, and assist a piece.
The Red Cubs, who lost in the NCAA Juniors Final 4 against eventual champion, La Salle Greenhills, have been shut out of the three major tournaments this season – the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup, the NCAA, and now the MMBL.
The consolation for JB Sison’s wards is by virtue of their MMBL finals berth, they have advanced to the SM-NBTC national high school finals this coming March where they are the defending champions.
Chiang Kai Shek’s Jason Celis and EJ Agbong added 17 and 14 points respectively to their title-winning effort.
The Red Cubs’ usual statistical leaders Even Nelle, Germy Mahinay, and Addy Velasquez were surprisingly non-factors. Nelle, who has made almost every Mythical Five selection in the NCAA and pre- and post-season leagues with his all-around high impact play, saw action for only 19 minutes. He finished with only two points although he did chalk up four assists. Furthermore, he fouled out early in the match.
Mahinay, the starting center for San Beda, scored two points in 12 mostly unproductive minutes, while Velasquez played only three minutes and did not score.
San Beda was led by Ain Obenza who scored 13 points. Robi Nayve added 12 while Prince Etrata scored 10 points.
San Beda owned the boards and were nearly even with Chiang Kai Shek in assists, 13-14, but they couldn’t translate that into an advantage.
In the meantime, the Blue Dragons’ relentless attack inside the lane saw them troop to the free throw line 27 times (where they only hit 15 free throws). In stark contrast, San Beda, without much of an inside presence, opted to shoot from three-point range, a usual strength, where they only hit 8-28 three-point attempts. Chiang Kai Shek shot 46% of their field goals while San beda was a poor 36%.
The Blue Dragons’ first MMBL crown also came at the expense of San Beda in 2015 with a Red Cubs squad that bannered Andrei Caracut, Norrish DeCapia, and Chami Diputado. CKSC then featured JV Gallego, Fran Yu, Shannon Gagate, and Jonas Tibayan.
The SM-NBTC national high school championships will be played this coming March 18-23 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
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