MANILA, Philippines—Rising star John Kevin Baytan buried a three-pointer while Wilson Bartolome came through with a defensive gem in the last two minutes as Chiang Kai Shek College thwarted Hope Christian High School, 79-75, in Game 1 of their best-of-three title series in the 42nd Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association tournament Monday at the Uno High School gym.
The CKSC Blue Dragons turned out to be more resilient as they produced two clutch plays to finally outplay the Hope Christian players in a tense encounter and move within a win of clinching their 15th title in the league, one of the biggest high school tournaments in the country.
The 6-foot-3 Baytan silenced the Hope Christian crowd by unloading his third and last triple for a 76-73 breather, 1:43 left in the payoff period.
Hope Christian, however, refused to give up the fight as Raymund Tan hit a long two 19 seconds later to trim the deficit to 76-75.
Hope Christian, which was unbeaten in seven games going into the finals, had a chance to send the game into overtime after CKSC playmaker John Paul Nieles split his charities.
An inside attempt by Clint Doliquez, however, got blocked by Bartolome with two seconds to go.
Another win tomorrow will enable CKSC to complete a Triple Crown after earlier wins in the Aspirants (14-years-and under) and Girls divisions of the tournament presented by Regan Industrials and World Balance.
The game was so tight it produced 15 lead changes and 11 deadlocks.
Baytan led the Goldwin Monteverde-mentored CKSC with 22 points while Bartolome chipped in 12 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Two other CKSC players scored in double figures with Joshua Tan and Kimlee Bayquin combining for 30 points.
Also backing the tournament are Uratex, Burlington, Summit Water, 100 Plus, Supreme Steel Pipe, Superior Pipe, Ace Water Spa and Molten.