The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), led by commissioner Willie Marcial, donated P1 million to the Davao earthquake victims through the Alagang Kapatid Foundation. PLDT Smart Foundation Inc. also contributed P500,000 while Cignal TV and Cignal Cares donated P100,000 each to the same cause during the halftime break of the PBA Governors’ Cup elimination match between Magnolia and Talk N Text at the University of Southeastern Philippines Gym in Davao City last Saturday. The Hotshots won the game, 100-93.
Winner-Take-All: Lions, Knights clash in Game 3
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - November 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — Forget the numbers, the edge in personnel, experience, momentum or luck. In a sudden death for one of the most coveted collegiate crowns, it all boils down to heart, poise and execution.

Down one game in the best-of-three series for the 95th NCAA diadem, San Beda showed a lot of heart and controlled Game 2, blowing a huge lead but coming up with clutch baskets and key stops to hack out a 79-76 thriller over Letran before a jampacked crowd at the MOA Arena last Friday.

Letran did showcase its big fighting spirit, too, rallying from a huge deficit and taking charge down the stretch. But Bon Bon Batiller failed to deliver a potential game-winner and the championship trophy for the Knights when he missed from underneath off a spectacular drive-and-draw play by Jerrick Balanza.

That left the series tied at 1-1 with the deciding match, set at 4 p.m. today, also at the MOA Arena, tipped to go down the way it was in the first two games tight, pressure-packed and unpredictable.

“We got lucky and survived Game Two and we will try to make the most of this second chance given us,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, whose wards looked headed to extending their dynamic reign to a fourth straight year and a 12th crown in the last 14 seasons and a league-best 23rd overall after sweeping their way straight to the finals only to be stunned by the fired-up Knights, 65-64, in Game 1.

Truly, breaks had a hand in the Red Lions’ Game 2 escape. Torched by the streak-shooting Fran Yu bridging the last two quarters, the defending champions got some reprieve as the Letran guard suffered cramps and failed to return after a game-high 23-point explosion.

But neither coach surely won’t pin their title hopes on good fortune alone with Fernandez hoping to draw the best from the likes of MVP Calvin Oftana, James Canlas, Clint Doliguez, Kemark Carino, Donald Tankoua and Damie Cuntapay and counterpart Bonnie Tan confident of a big fightback from the likes of Larry Muyang, Jeo Ambohot, Balanza, Yu and of course, Batiller.

“I will do everything to help my team win,” said the 23-year-old Oftana, who barreled his way and completed a crucial three-point play that shoved the Lions on top in the stretch.

Expect the Knights to likewise fight to the finish in pursuit of an 18th championship.

“We’ve moved on from what happened in Game Two and we’re now focused on winning the championship,” said Tan, whose gallant Knights also had appeared headed to sweeping their rivals in reverse after Yu rained down triples from all angles to power the team from 15 points down to a 66-59 lead in the fourth.

But the Lions showed their championship poise and didn’t panic as the Knights wobbled when it mattered most, leading to what promises to be a classic Game 3.

KNIGHTS LETRAN LIONS SAN BEDA
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