Champions again

December 10, 2018
Diliman College Blue Dragons
The Diliman College Blue Dragons celebrate with head coach Rensy Bajar and team manager Jerome Ngo of Gerry’s Grill shortly after winning the UCBL title.

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.

The scores:

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