Calabarzon, NCR survive foes to arrange grand HS hoops finale
LAGUNA, Philippines - Host squad Calabarzon needed someone to take over in the end to keep their title hopes alive and fend off elimination against a hard-fighting Western Visayas crew on Friday, May 9 in the action-packed semifinals of the 2014 Palarong Pambansa inside the main gymnaisum of the Laguna Sports Complex.
Combo guard Marc Joper Diputado nailed a crucial layup with just 12.6 seconds left and sank two freebies afterwards to ice a hard-earned 81-74 win for the host region.
Calabarzon returns to the finals of the secondary boys basketball tournament which happens Saturday, May 10.
Calabarzon opened a 48-33 cushion in the early moments of the third quarter, with EJ Furaque terrorizing Western Visayas on offense with short jumpers and inside baskets.
Region IV-A maintained a 62-53 edge at the end of the third, before the backcourt tandem of Calvo and Bano took charge with 10 straight points for Western Visayas.
A tip-in by Region VI big Bayotas pulled the Visayan squad within 72-74 with just 2:16 left in the match.
Furaque then scored a split, which was answered quickly by a Bayotas fastbreak basket to make it 75-74 with only 49.5 ticks left.
It would be Western Visayas' last stand as Furaque sank two more charities while Franz Abuda drew an unsportsmanlike foul off Penuelas to give possession to Calabarzon with 34 seconds to go, 77-74.
Diputado then called for a clear out before driving hard to his right for the dagger. Calabarzon will march to the championship round this year after settling for the bronze in 2013.
NCR serves revenge to dethrone Central Visayas
In the opener, National Capital Region booked a return trip to the finals after ousting defending secondary boys hoops champions Central Visayas, 90-80.
Parading a bigger roster mainly bannered by National University cagers, the Big City bets utilized their size advantage to dominate the Sacred Heart Ateneo de Cebu-backed crew early, before relying on tested veterans to pull off the win and the finals ticket.
NCR romped in the first three quarters, with JP Cauilan bullying everybody who blocked his path inside and out. Last year's runner-up held the 30-23 halftime edge and kept Region VII at bay for most of the second half.
But that was before the defending champions tried to make one last push.
Down 63-74, Central Visayas unleashed a blistering 15-7 rally behind the exploits of Gio Laguyo to pull within 78-81, with under two minutes left.
Cauilan then hit a crucial floater first while his NU teammate Manuel Mosqueda drained a jumper to give NCR breathing room at 85-78 in the final 1:14.
The defending champs had one final chance to inch closer, but bad breaks took their wind out in the final minute.
Laguyo missed back to back baskets while Eden Igna's intended inbounds lob pass in the final 40 seconds went out of bounds, officially drowning their hopes of a two-peat.
Central Visayas and Western Visayas will instead settle for the bronze medal match which will precede the much anticipated showdown between Calabarzon and NCR - two of the best squads in the secondary boys Palarong Pambansa basketball category over the past decade.
Finals action starts at 8:30am, Saturday, May 10 still at the Laguna Sports Complex's basketball center.
In the secondary girls division, NCR arranged a showdown with Central Luzon in the championship while Calabarzon and Cagayan Valley will square off in the elementary boys finale. – Rappler.com