College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills is not done yet, not by a long shot, in the NCAA 93 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
So much so that not even foul trouble for Joel Cagulangan or an ejection for Inand Fornilos could stop them.
Cagulangan battled foul trouble to still wind up with 17 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and four steals and had much-welcome help from Joshua David and Makoy Marcos as the Junior Blazers down defending champion Mapua University, 74-68, in Game 1 of the Finals on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Cagulangan, who carried his team in their semifinals conquest of dynastic San Beda High School, incurred three fouls in just the first half. Double-double machine Fornilos, meanwhile, was tagged with a disqualifying foul in the third quarter.
“Ramdam naming mas ginanahan yung mga bata nung nangyari yun,” assistant coach Allen Ricardo said.
Indeed, CSB-LSGH dug deep and used a 10-1 run to erase a four-point deficit and erect a 43-38 advantage in the third quarter.
And when the Red Robins got to within 66-70 inside the last five minutes, it was Cagulangan who had back-to-back steals which led to back-to-back assists which led to back-to-back layups from Marcos and David for a 74-66 lead. “There are pros and cons and I just told them to go for it. Fortunately, it worked for us,” head coach Marvin Bienvenida said.
Not long after, the boys from Greenhills were celebrating their fourth win in a row that moves them one stay away from their first-ever championship. “Hopefully, we can still continue this,” Bienvenida said.
All of this almost wasn’t meant to be as they struggled to end the elimination round with only one win in its last six games.
From there, however, they won a knockout bout against San Sebastian College-Recoletos for the right to be the fourth-seed, won the first game against the top-seeded and twice-to-beat Red Cubs to force a do-or-die game, and now, won again versus San Beda to stay alive and kicking.
Of course, Cagulangan still made it happen in this one, but had much-welcome help from David who had 17 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists as well as Marcos who had 15 markers and eight rebounds.
Fornilos still had 14 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks despite only playing 16 minutes.
With his ejection, he will also be suspended in the next game. Bienvenida said, however, that the Junior Blazers will appeal for his disqualifying foul to be downgraded.
For Mapua, Will Gozum posted a 16-point, 19-rebound double-double while Erick Jabel and Clint Escamis also added 13 and 11 markers, respectively.
They will need much more from the likes of Warren Bonifacio and Mike Enriquez if they are to force a Game Three and ultimately, if they are to keep their title.
Game 2 is scheduled next Thursday still at the same venue.
CSB-LSGH 74 – Cagulangan 17, David 17, Marcos 15, Fornilos 14, Morales 4, Mosqueda 4, Sangco 3, Lao 0, Perez 0, Dela Cruz 0, Lepalam 0, Cruz 0
MAPUA 68 – Gozum 16, Jabel 13, Escamis 11, Lacap 9, Bonifacio 6, Enriquez 6, Garcia 4, Ramos 3, Arches 0
QUARTER SCORES: 19-20, 33-37, 59-52, 74-68
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