Red Cubs bag MMBL crown over Malayan
by rick olivares
The San Beda Red Cubs gained a measure of revenge over the Malayan Red Robins by winning the Metro Manila Basketball League championship, 82-72, at the San Beda Gym in Manila.
The Red Robins ended San Beda’s seven-year reign as NCAA Juniors champions by defeating the Red Cubs in a three-match series last October.
Both sides ruled the MMBL’s Division One and were on a collision course for the championship.
The Red Robins looked to continue their mastery over San Beda as they raced to a 12-point lead following a lay-up point guard Rom Junsay, 30-19, at the 6:52 mark of the second period. But San Beda’s full court press forced Malayan into a series of miscues that saw the Red Cubs even up matters, 39-all, going into the half time break.
Both teams traded runs in the third and up the middle of the fourth period when San Beda point guard Evan Nelle took over. Nelle broke a 65-all deadlock with a triple. After Junsay answered with a three of his own, Nelle found center Sam Abuhijleh for an and-one that broke the fifth and last deadlock and gave San Beda the lead for good, 71-68. Nelle dished off two more huge assists, poked the ball away from Joaquin Garcia, then drilled a bac-breaking triple from the top of the key, for an 82-70 lead with time down to 2:18. The Red Cubs preserved their lead to bag the MMBL crown and an automatic seat to the SM-National Basketball Training Center High School National Championship that will be held this coming March.
Right before the end of the match, a near fight broke out in front of the San Beda bench when Malayan shooter Brian Lacap and San Beda’s Luke Sese traded barbs. Both benches emptied with near scuffles erupting in the stands involving supporters of both sides.
“Somehow, I don’t think this is over,” said Nelle after the match. The point guard was referring to the upcoming NBTC finals where both squads will still meet.
Malayan was without some key players in Sherwin Concepcion and Jasper Salenga who are still out with injuries.
Sam Abuhijleh led SBC with 18 points while his co-twin tower, Germy Mahinay added 14 points. Nelle finished with 12 points and seven assists.
Malayan’s Warren Bonifacio led the way for his side with 20 points while Clint Escamis and Garcia tallied 17 each in the losing effort.
In the other MMBL Division championships, National University crushed Xavier, 85-39, behind a punishing pressing defense to make it back-to-back Division Two crowns. All but 15 points of NU were scored inside the lane while the Golden Stallions shot a miserable 3-50 from three-point range, the only shot the Bullpups gave them.
In the Girls Division, the Chiang Kai Shek College Lady Blue Dragons also made it back-to-back titles after taking down De La Salle Zobel, 59-44. Both sides traded leads and run until the late third period when the Lady Archers’ Justine Domingo was ejected from the game after incurring her second technical foul. CKSC was leading 42-36 at that time. The loss of the spunky Domingo heavily told on DLSZ’s fortunes leaving Marga Jimenez and Bea Dalisay to carry the torch.