REDS RULE Holy Child survives Ateneo rally to win title

Holy Child top gun Vince Petdeo Cuajao, photographed from beyond the ‘media-restricted’ area of the gym, gets set to shoot his free throws.  KOII CANARIAS

Holy Child College of Davao Red Eagles leaned on a determined Vince Petdeo Cuajao in the endgame to hack out a heart-stopping 83-76 victory over rival Ateneo de Davao University Blue Knights on Saturday evening to top the National Basketball Training Center (NBTC) League Davao Qualifiers at the University of Mindanao-Matina Campus Gymnasium.

The Red Eagles took control of the match through three quarters in a game witnessed by fans from both schools who filled the gym in a sea of red and blue–the school colors of Ateneo and Holy Child. 

Just when the Jacinto-based hoopsters were about to celebrate another breezy win, the Blue Knights came back to life with still seven minutes left in the game. Ateneo rallied back to forge a 63-all deadlock for the first time. 

The two teams traded baskets from there and it took the Red Eagles stifling trapping defense in the final two minutes to take the fight out of the Blue Knights. Ateneo’s reliable guard James Bacalso fouled out with 19 seconds left to dash their hopes dimmer.

Cuajao, who was named the tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP) came up with huge plays on both ends of the floor in crunch time en route to a scorching 41 points, 16 points in the crucial 4th quarter. He was also crowned the Most Valuable Player of the Season for this local qualifier event.

The Holy Child College of Davao Red Eagles will represent the city in the Regional Finals event beginning Sunday, February 24. The National Finals will be held on March at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City, Manila. The team’s complete line-up: Vence Reenail Malero, Emeliano Escalera III, Mauriz Pacer Senarillos, Prince Arnold Silva, Faizal Allong, Cayle Manlimos, Joshua Reyes, Joshua Rey Catalan, Vince Petdeo Dalida Cuajao, Froilan Tingabngab Palcis, Rj Villaflores, Rommel Mercado, James Paolo Manigo, Aeron Jeswill Awe, and Marvin Samonte.

Curiously, the tournament, organized by the local NBTC and officiated by a local referees group did not allow media photographers from entering the sidelines area. A source from the tournament organizing group told Edge Davao the decision was the “call of the Commissioner.”