SWU-Phinma vs SHS-Ateneo in NBTC-Cebu City leg finals
Rico S. Navarro (The Freeman) - February 16, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Defending champion Southwestern University-Phinma and 2018 champion Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu face off for the championship of the Chooks to Go NBTC League-Cebu City qualifier after beating their respective foes in yesterday’s semifinals at the Cebu City Sports Institute gym.

SWU-PHINMA came from behind to oust University of the Visayas, 77-68, while SHS-Ateneo cruised to a 76-47 rout of Don Bosco Technical College Cebu.

Proving that last year’s championship was legit, the Baby Cobras rallied from a 36-46 halftime deficit and leaned on its end-game composure to seal a second straight trip to the finals. They tied the game at 48-all in the third period before UV regained the lead at 54-50 to start the fourth period.

The Baby Cobras tied the game at 60-all, then went on a 7-0 run to take a 67-60 lead, 4:13 left in the game. UV didn’t wilt and sliced the lead to 67-65 before SWU-Phinma went on a 10-0 run for a 77-65 lead, 1:10 left in the game.

Charles Libatog, Kendall Limana and Jimwel Craus combined for the endgame push. Limana had a game-high 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the Baby Cobras. Jimwel Craus had 14 points, including two clutch triples, the last one sealing the end-game10-0 run. He also had eight rebounds.

AJ Sacayan led UV with 16 points as Samuel Mellicor added 15.

SWU-Phinma leaned on its bench to support Limana as this contributed 43 points against the 18 on UV.

 Learning from last year’s debacle where they went undefeated in the classification phase then lost its only game in the semifinals, the Magis Eagles settled the outcome early, taking a 30-5 lead at the end of the first period. The lead ballooned to 51-19 at halftime as SHS-Ateneo de Cebu clamped down on the Greywolves with airtight defense.

Both sides slowed down on offense a bit in the third period with SHS-Ateneo enjoying a 61-31 going into the final period. It was cruise control from then on.

So dominating were the 2018 champions that their biggest lead was at 37 points before slowing down. Mike Boniel and Joey Villamayor led a balanced attack with 13 points each. Boniel also hauled down ten rebounds for a double-double. Villamayor went 6-for-7 from the field. Macmac Narbasa added nine points and seven boards. Eleven of the fifteen players fielded by the Magis Eagles contributed on offense.

Jose Zaldy Dizon was the only bright light for Don Bosco, leading the pack with 11 points. Don Bosco was shut down and limited to 25% shooting from the field (19/75). They also shot only 8% from three-point land (2/23). Meanwhile, the Magis Eagles dominated the paint, scoring 46 points against the 26 of Don Bosco.

The championship game will be played at 2:00 p.m. today also at the Cebu City Sports Institute Gym. For their feats, both teams have already qualified for the NBTC National Finals that will be held on March 21-27 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

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