Letran ends long NCAA juniors title drought
MANILA, Philippines-Letran ended a 22-year NCAA juniors basketball championship drought with a 77-61 romp of CSB-La Salle Green Hills at the packed San Andres Sports Complex Thursday.
Reserves Jovel Baliling and Jonathan Manalili took the spotlight, while Finals MVP Andy Gemao was at his usual best to power the Squires in securing the elusive title.
It was Letran’s first high school crown since 2001 bannered by Jay-R Reyes and the first double championship for the Muralla-based school since 1983.
Just last December, Letran completed a “three-peat” in the men’s basketball tournament.
Baliling had 19 points, four rebounds and two assists while Manalili chipped in 16 points, eight boards, seven assists and two blocks, while Gemao logged 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals for Letran.
The 16-year-old Gemao averaged 17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the series.
Luis Pablo, who was named season MVP honors before Game 2, led the Greenies with 20 points and 14 rebounds while his frontcourt partner Seven Gagate also had a double-double outing of 11 points and 18 boards to go along with three blocks.
Rod Alian and CJ Mesias were the other LSGH players in twin digits with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Joining Pablo in the Mythical Team were his teammate Gagate, Gemao, Matthew Rubico of Lyceum of the Philippines University, Amiel Acido of University of Perpetual Help System Dalta and Chris Hubilla of San Beda.
Rubico was named this season’s Rookie of the Year in his one-and-done stint for the Junior Pirates while Gagate claimed the Most Improved Player plum.
The Defensive Players of the Year awards were shared by PE Enal of Jose Rizal University and George Diamante of Letran.
Completing the All-Defensive Team were Pablo, Gagate, Acido, Diamante and Ivan Panapanaan of Arellano University.
The Red Cubs, meanwhile, won the Sportsmanship Award.
Letran 77 — Baliling 19, Manalili 16, Gemao 14, Silorio 12, Alforque 4, Hugo 4, Anabo 3, Cruz 2, Reyes 2, Diamante 1, Navarro 0, Datumalim 0, Paguiligan 0, Padilla 0, Cuajao 0.
LSGH 61 — Pablo 20, Alian 13, Gagate 11, Mesias 10, Ison 5, Villaver 2, S. Romero 0, R. Romero 0, Rivero 0, Zamora 0, Gomez 0, Hachuela 0, Zaragoza 0, Muyuela 0.
Quarterscores: 21-18, 38-28, 56-44, 77-61.
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