PMMS Mariners frustrate Sea Lions, keep NCRAA title
Defending champion Philippine Merchant Marine School banked on its unsinkable spirit to slip past Olivarez College, 71-70, and retain the 23rd National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) men’s basketball championship before an animated crowd Wednesday at the Rizal Technological University Gym in Mandaluyong.
The Mariners flirted with disaster in the dying moments but gained the needed lift when the Sea Lions bungled three golden opportunities to reverse the outcome of the seesawing match.
‘‘I’m proud of this team,’’ said winning coach Aldrin Morante,who heaved a sigh of relief as the buzzer sounded.‘‘ This was the result of hardwork and dedication.’’
Thus, the Mariners extended their reign to another year in the league against the Sea Lions, whom they also swept in last year’s best-of-three title series.
With the Mariners nursing a two-point edge, 71-69, 1.5 seconds remaining, the usually reliable Richard Singh bungled the first of his free throws and, to the horror of the Olivarez gallery, sank the second, giving the Mariners the inbound.
‘‘The title is really for PMMS. Congratulations to the winning team,’’ said Olivarez coach Michael Saguigit, who said that ‘‘uncluckily’’ Singh’s second free throw went in.
An acrobatic shot by foxy playmaker Pruvil Bermudez gave Olivarez a slim, 69-68 advantage but the celebration of the Sea Lions proved short-lived as Jess Nicole Quilatan scored with a lay-up.
Singh missed in the return play and bull-strong Vinny Begaso’s undergoal stab was shot, leading to a desperation foul by Bermudez on Domark Matillano.
Matillano split his free throws with nine seconds left, and as the gallery filled the gym with ear-splitting screams, Singh wisely drove to the basket and snagged a foul from Rocky Antonares, 1.5 seconds remaining.
Among those who took a break from their heavy schedules are PMMS President and chairman of the Board of Trustees Juan O. Nolasco III and son Patrick, NCRAA President and PMMS vice-president for Operations Pipo Onrubia and NCRAA vice-president Cesar Hagos.
‘‘I was telling them at halftime that we should avoid Game 2. They (Mariners) have the hearts and character to sweep the series,’’ said Onrubia, whose able stewardship has transformed PMMS a collegiate sports powerhouse.
With the win, the Mariners piled up a total of 10 wins, including eight in the double-round robin eliminations where they also beat the Sea Lions twice.
If any consolation, the Sea Lions unveiled a gem of a player Tarlac native Jayboy Solis, who battled the power-playing Antonares in the shaded lane. The reed-thin Solis finished with 14 points and was instrumental in preventing the Mariners from taking the upperhand in the first three quarters.
The 6-foot-3 Solis, a Business Administration student, made the Mythical Five along with teammate Bermudez.
Quilatan, who is planning to join the PBA D-League after graduation this year, copped his second straight MVP plum. Rizal Technological University’s power forward Kerr Hasley Bangeles and Antonares completed the selection.
PMMS 71–Yagonia 17, Quilatan 16, Matillano 13, Villamayor 10, Chan 8, Pasia 5, Antonares 2
Olivarez College 70–Bermudez 17, Solis 14, Cartel 13, Singh 13, Begaso 9, Navarro 2, Ollano 2
Quarters:8-16; 29-31; 50-54; 71-70
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