DILIMAN College is this year’s Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) champion.
Benin import Kevine Gandjeto made sure the title will not escape the Blue Dragons this time.
Gandjeto produced the game’s biggest plays for the Blue Dragons, including a dunk with only 10.6 seconds left as Diliman College brought down Olivarez College, 63-57, and clinch the title before an overflow crowd at the Olivarez College gym in Paranaque.
Handled by coach Rensy Bajar, the Quezon City-based Blue Dragons wrapped up the tightly-contested best-of-three title series, 2-1, over the Sea Lions.
It was a superb rebound game for Gandjeto, the 6-7 import from Benin, who redeemed himself from a dismal seven-point, five-rebound performance in last Thursday’s 71-80 loss in Game 2 that leveled the series.
This time, there was no doubt who is the better player of the better team.
Gandjeto asserted himself repeatedly against the Sea Lions’ tight defense, f inishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and three steals for the Blue Dragons.
For Bajar and the jubilant Blue Dragons, the title is worth the wait.
“Thank God for this championship. Napakasarap itong panalong ito at championship na ito,” said Bajar a few days after announcing that the Blue Dragons are headed to the PBA D-League next year.
“No one expected us to be in this situation. It was hard work and perseverance of the players that won it for us. Talagang pinagsikapan ito ng mga players at pati ng coaching staff, ” added Bajar, who is widely credited for turning Diliman College into one of the leading collegiate teams.
Bajar shared the success to Diliman College community, led by former Sen. Nikki Coseteng, and team sponsor Jerome Ngo of Gerry’s Grill.
“The continued support of Diliman College, led by Sen.Coseteng, and our team sponsors, Jerome Ngo and Wilson Sia, are the keys to the success of the team,” added Bajar.
John Mahari, who scored four of his seven points in the Blue Dragons’ game-changing 11-0 run that erased a 41-47 deficit early in the fourth period, was named the Finals MVP.
Diliman was the top-ranked team in the eliminations and had its 10-game winning streak after losing to Olivarez in Game 2.
It was a close game throughout.
The Blue Dragons unleashed a decisive 9-0 run to grab a 15-8 lead before the Sea Lions closed out with seven straight points to tie the score at 15-15 after the first period
Cheered wildly by a home crowd, Olivarez stayed n the thick of the fight with Diliman therest of the way.
But as in the series opener, the Sea Lions had no answer to the Blue Dragons.
Joshua Almajeda carried the fight for the Sea Lions with 14 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Dwight Saguiguit added 12 points, four assists and four boards.
What hurt the Sea Lions’ chances, however, was the defense of the Blue Dragons on Paolo Castro, who went scoreless in the first half.
Castro finsihd with six points.
Diliman (63) -- Gandjeto 14, Brutas 14,Bauzon 11, Mahari 7, Enriquez 6, Darang 4, Salazar E. 4, Coquia 3, Salazar J. 0, Ligon 0.
Olivarez (57) -- Almajeda 14, Saguiguit 12, Elie 9, Lalata 8, Castro 6, Begaso 4, Udoba 2, Sala 2, Completo 0.
Quarterscores: 15-15, 32-28, 41-45, 63-57