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MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines-bound Felix Jaboneta ended his high school career with a bang by leading the Ateneo de Cebu Magis Eagles past the San Beda Red Cubs, 82-78, and to the 2015 NBTC championship on Sunday, March 8, at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
Jaboneta finished with 27 points, including 18 in the second half, in addition to 7 boards, and was named the MVP of the contest. Third year Ateneo Cebu standout Joshua Sinclair also turned heads, registering 15 points and 17 rebounds with his high-energy play.
San Beda, who is the six-time defending champion of the junior NCAA basketball tournament, leaned on the performance of incoming Green Archers freshman Andrei Caracut, who finished with 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists in his second game of the afternoon. Prior to the title match, Caracut also participated in the NBTC All-Star Game.
San Beda was in control to start off the game, establishing an 18-2 edge early in the first period. But slowly and surely, Ateneo cut into the lead thanks to key baskets by Jaboneta and Sinclair and was down only by four heading into halftime.
The Red Cubs lost a major part of their roster as Chami Diputado, who had 11 points in the first two quarters, had to sit out the rest of the game after injuring his right knee late in the first half on an awkward step while running out of bounds.
The game tilted to Ateneo’s favor once they started utilizing the press on defense midway through the fourth period. A couple of steals led to two consecutive easy scoring opportunities for UST-bound Zachary Huang, who finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds, that gave his club a 70-68 edge.
The onslaught continued from there, as Huang and Jaboneta combined to score 7 straight for the Magis Eagles to increase their lead up to nine while the Red Cubs fired blanks on their side of the floor.
San Beda got as close as four thanks to free throws by Norish Decapia with under a minute to go, but the guard was unable to hit his jumper with under 10 seconds left that could have narrowed the lead.