BAGUIO CITY – The University of the Cordilleras (UC) survived on Friday a gritty University of Baguio High School (UBHS) then went on to stop Tabuk City, 78-62, to win the National Basketball Training Camp (NBTC) regional finals for Cordillera and Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) at the UB gym.
Sachi Caballero exploded from the outside burying four treys to help UC’s Junior Jaguars final showdown against Tabuk City which went toe to toe in the first quarter that ended at 15-all.
Like a literal diesel-fueled vehicle, UC stepped on the gas in the second quarter with Caballero and the beanpole Edmund Afufog doing the most damage as the Junior Jaguars zooming to a 38-25 halftime lead.
From there, UC never let go as they built a 17-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 58-41.
The Junior Jaguars built a 20- point lead, its biggest in the fourth canto with Hammed Elhabib hitting back to back baskets to give UC a 67-47.
That included a steal from him and he stole back the ball leading to an easy basket.
“I am just so happy that the team won despite lack of practice before the NBTC,” said Caballero who led UC with 21 points.
Afufog made 15 points including a trey as the beanpole of African descent was a force to reckon with inside, while Allen Tobias added 10 points.
Marcial Olosan proved his savviness anew as he led Tabuk City with 14 points, while Dillinger Carbonell shot 12 and Silvestre Wansi added 10 for the visiting team from Kalinga which went to the finals by escaping Cordillera Career Development College (CCDC), 71-68, earlier in the afternoon to prevent an all Cordillera finals.
“It was the UB game that really mattered the most. It was just sheer pressure,” said the sweet-shooting shortest member of UC, referring to the semifinals game against the Baguio champion UB whom they beat 68-62 Friday morning to get into the finals.
Tobias, a son of a former UB Cardinal, led UC in the UB semis with 17 points, while Afufog, Jan Manzano and Caballero added, 13, 12 and 10 points, in that order.
“By winning against UB, we were confident to make it to the title,” he added.
Cauayan, meanwhile, scored a 97-84 victory over Tuguegarao National High School to make it to the national finals which will have 36 teams from all over the country. (PNA)