NBTC: Team Tarlac rallies past Don Bosco, clinches Division 2 title


Posted at Mar 19 2023 09:23 PM

2023 Smart-NBTC National Finals Division 2 Team Tarlac. Handout photo
2023 Smart-NBTC National Finals Division 2 Team Tarlac. Handout photo

MANILA -- Team Tarlac nabbed the 2023 Smart-NBTC National Finals Division 2 championship via a come-from-behind win against Royal Trading Star Don Bosco-Dumaguete, 86-84, at Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.

Don Bosco led by as much as 20 points in the first half before Team Tarlac went on a searing second half run to notch their first-ever national under-19 title in this tourney.

“This is a big thing for us, our province, and all provincial teams. We've shown we can compete,” said coach Julius Dela Vega, after they lost a tight game against UST and downed Ateneo ahead of the finals.

The Greywolves led by just one, 77-76, when Earl Sapsap escaped with a breakaway layup to spark a 6-1 run that gave Team Tarlac a pivotal 82-78 advantage with 2:56 minutes remaining.

Don Bosco stuck with Team Tarlac, though, only trailing by two until Kit Bonus finessed his way to an inside shot to seal the deal, 86-82, with 42 ticks left. In the end, Bonus came away with 21 points, five steals, four rebounds, and three blocks.

Team Tarlac led in the first quarter, 17-16, before Dumaguete pushed the pace with an 11-2 run sparked by a Matthew Jucom triple to take a huge 27-19 edge into halftime.

After fronting the game-changing rally, Jucom, who also participated in the 2023 Under Armour-NBTC Three-Point Shootout, finished the first half with 20 points, but only had five the rest of the way.

RJ Liwanag contributed 18 points while Jahmir Adrian Eligado chipped in 16 markers to help Team Tarlac gain the Division 2 trophy. 

Previous winners include Batangas' De La Salle Lipa, Cagayan de Oro's Assumption Montessori School, and Pampanga's St. Augustine Institute.

MJ Hendric Vailoces registered 16 markers while Jay Stephen Garupil added 15 to his name in the Dumaguete defeat. John Mycco Deposoy and Cary Bruce Aure also tallied 10 points each in a losing effort.