BACOLOD—Purefoods TJ Hotdog-Cebu hung tough in a wild endgame as it nipped Purefoods TJ Hotdog-St. John’s Institute of Bacolod, 68-64, Tuesday night to wrest the title in the NBTC Elite League National finals at the West Negros Gym.
Julius Cadavis, a 6-foot-3 banger with a smooth shooting stroke, fired 20 points, including a short stab with 15 seconds remaining that all but wrapped up the crown for the Cebuanos.
Cebu’s offense kicked into high gear in the clutch as Jair Igna and Aaron Baldwin canned three triples inside the last four minutes to frustrate the local team, which entered the tournament as a wild card after Palawan pulled out.
Sing wound up with 13 points on three treys, while Igna and Rondell Senining finished with nine apiece for Cebu.
“We didn’t expect to be in the finals, but the boys played with a lot of heart,” said Cebu coach Jaysar Esparat, whose squad was composed mostly by players from Sacred Heart School-Ateneo.
St. John’s couldn’t get the job done, despite putting the Cebuanos in penalty early in the fourth quarter. The Bacolod cagers missed 15 free throws in the final period and 28 overall.
The Cebuanos were only hoping for the best after they suffered a 76-80 defeat to Bacolod champion San Mig Coffee-WNU early Monday. But with WNU surprisingly bowing to Monterey Meat Shop Cagayan de Oro, Cebu took the lone semifinal berth from Group C because of a better quotient.
The tournament was backed by Seaoil, Burlington, Freego and Molten.
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