Ochea powers Central Visayas past NCR in hoops finals
DUMAGUETE City, Philippines -- Served perfectly at home.
Host team Central Visayas zoomed to a hot start before holding fort down the stretch to eke out a 70-66 win and end NCR's reign in the 2013 Palarong Pambansa secondary basketball boys competition at the jampacked Lamberto Macias Sports Centre here.
In front of more than 5, 000 rabid fans at the oven-hot venue, graduating slot man Dawn Ochea imposed his might underneath as the Region VII bets not just grabbed the championship, but exacted vengeance on the region that eliminated them in the 2012 Palaro.
Ochea finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds while sharpshooter Eden Igna rifled in four three-pointers to wound up with 15 markers, including the game-sealing free-throw with 1.1 ticks left on the clock.
“We really wanted this (title) since last year, NCR beat us in the quarterfinals, I’m just so happy and speechless right now,” said Ochea, who will suit up for Adamson in the UAAP.
Central Visayas came out with guns ablaze, burying NCR early with a 17-2 opening salvo aided their pesky 2-2-1 half court trap defense that frustrated the Big City dribblers.
NCR, who won the title last year at the expense of CALABARZON, however would not go out without a fight as Alfred Gayosa and Michael Calisaan buckled down to work to pull the wards of head coach Bernie Mercado within striking distance.
In the fourth canto, NCR, whose core is composed of the San Sebastian Staglets, bungled several attempts in the end game, allowing Central Visayas to escape with the hard-earned victory.
“We had a lot of new teammates this year but we were able to accomplish this," added the 16-year-old Ochea, who was teary-eyed after the game.
Gayosa carried the fight for the crestfallen former champions, chipping in 14 points.
Teary-eyed Cebu head coach Rommel Rasmo thanked the crowd for its immense support, saying that the victory will be the start of Central Visayas' dominance in basketball.
"We can compete now. We know we can beat NCR," the ecstatic mentor shared. "We'll use this as motivation for next year."
Central Visayas only finished 5th last year, enduring a stinging setback in the quarters at the expense of the very same region they outclassed today.
Parading a retooled roster this year, the host squad overcome all the obstacles and won it all.
“I am very proud [of my players], especially the seniors. We gave glory to our hometown,” Rasmo added.
NCR gunners Renzo Subido and Lorenzo Navarro, who both exploded in the semifinal victory over Calabarzon, were nowhere to be found in the all-important championship game.
The backcourt tandem only combined for a paltry seven points, as Subido was held without a single field goal, missed his first four free throws and even air-balled a long jumper in the fourth quarter.
Earlier today, Calabarzon banked on athletic big man Javee Mocon’s 18 points en route to a 100-61 win against Western Visayas in the bronze medal game. - with reports from Michael Angelo Jugado/Rappler.com