BAGUIO CITY – The University of Baguio (UB) routed University of the Cordilleras (UC), 92-51, and retained its men’s basketball title Wednesday at its own Cardinals gym.
It was the most lopsided victory in the 33 years of the league that has nine teams this year, two from the neighboring La Trinidad and against a team that has five titles to boast.
“Rookie kami last year (We were rookies last year),” said big man Renz dela Cruz as he dominated the board in his sophomore year.
“This is a much different team from last year when we underestimated Saint Louis University (SLU),” said coach Joel Flores, whose wards broke the Jaguars early and from there cruised to the win with plenty of time.
UB had a twice to beat advantage going to the finals by sweeping the elimination round and it awaited the winner of the step ladder post eliminations with the second-seeded UC as the victor last Monday against Cordillera Career Development College (CCDC).
The fourth-ranked CCDC blasted third seed Baguio College of Technology (BCT), 97-79, in the first of the step ladder matches. But against CCDC, the La Trinidad, Benguet school came in short 99-75.
The victory at the Cardinals’ own gym was the noisiest with hundreds of UB students coming in droves to motivate their team to play well, win and avoid the complication of a rubber match.
“Malaki ang potential ng mga players at lalakas pa ang mga eto (The players have a big potential. They will improve with time),” said Flores, who fears that he might lose some of his top players next year to Manila schools.
Bhenedick Lozano alone is being eyed by two National College Athletic Association (NCCA) teams – Perpetual Help College and his alma mater Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC).
“Naka-line up na nga sa EAC yan (He is already lined up to play for EAC) but he opted to play here,” said Flores.
Also eyeing Manila stints are sweet-shooting Clyde Camit and the big men – dela Cruz and Vince Sibbaluca.
“Let’s see, hopefully, they will change their minds and play one more time for us,” said Flores, who played five years with the Cardinals as a point guard and won the whole five years.
Camit top-scored for the Cardinals with 16, John Michael Almendez and Sibbaluca, whose parents, grandparents and relatives traveled to Baguio from Cagayan to witness the game, had 15 apiece.
Lozano added 12 for the team which earned its 26th BBEAL crown.
Christian Valdez led UC with 16 points. It was a finals lacking the luster of the past years as one team dominated in the men’s and women’s crown.
UB on the men’s and UC on the women’s side which whipped SLU, 81-28, the most lopsided in the history of the BBEAL.
“It is a revenge of sorts on UC which whipped our women’s team,” UB athletic director Alan Elegado said.
UB advances to the Philippine Collegiate Champions League in January, said Flores, where they will play Cordillera Higher Education Schools and Athletic Association champion, University of Luzon, and Pampanga schools.
In other BBEAL updates, it will be a busy week for the 10 school competitions with baseball started last Nov. 8 at the Benguet State University (BSU) grounds.
The games will be played until Dec. 1 for the event.
Next weekend, six events will be played at various venues starting with archery in the archery range at the Baguio Athletic Bowl, badminton at the University of the Philippines (UP), chess at the UP hall, tables tennis at the UP gym, sepak takraw at the UC gym and wushu at the Camp 7 Kalinga court for sanda (combat) and taolu at UC gym. Pigeon Lobien / PNA – northboundasia.com