By Mike Nauta Jr.

Tuesday night marked the final day of friendship tournament action in the 2014 Youth Basketball Games as the FD Friars went head-to-head against the visiting University of Santo Tomas Growling Tiger Cubs at the Academy of Our Lady of Guam Gymnasium.  Both teams gave everyone in attendance much to cheer about.  However, at the end of the game only one team was awarded the championship trophy.  With the scoreboard reflecting a 68-53 score in their favor, the Growling Tiger Cubs were crowned the 2014 champs.

“This tournament was a very humbling tournament for our team and everyone who came,” said UST’s Nicole Luna.  “The last time we played here it wasn’t as tough, but this time around the teams have gotten much better and more competitive.”

From tipoff, the Friars wasted no time trying to set the tempo of the game as they jumped out to an early 8-0 lead courtesy of buckets from Nick Aglubat and Tyler Okiyama.  The Growling Tiger Cubs ended the early surge after Miguel Jison drained a short jumper.  Minutes later, UST shrank their deficit to 10-7 after baskets by Jison and teammates Marion Navarro and Frances Luna.  Aggressive playing from both sides came the game exciting for the remainder of the opening period.  FD’s Aglubat drained the quarter’s final basket with seconds of the clock to give his team a 15-11 lead.

The second place FD Friars. (photo by Rock Anciano.)

The second place FD Friars. (photo by Rock Anciano.)

The Friars upped their lead in the first minute of the second quarter after Troy Corpuz and Christian Chang sank back-to-back shots.  Despite falling behind, the Growling Tiger Cubs maintained composure and immediately went right back to work.  With five players posting points on the board, UST went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead (21-20) of the game.  The halftime signal eventually sounded with the Growling Tiger Cubs holding onto a 26-24 lead.

Not satisfy with their lead and hungry for more, UST started the second-half with a six-point rally giving them a 32-24 lead.  Each time the Friars tried to narrow the gap, their opponents responded with mini-surges.  That wasn’t the case with less than five minutes in the third.  A 12-2 run by the Friars capped by a three-pointer from Aglubat made it a two-point (40-38) game.  However, a trey from UST’s Pat Capena before the end of the period gave the Growling Tiger Cubs a five-point lead.

UST kept their foot on the gas pedal and continued to pound away offensively in the fourth quarter.  A 7-1 rally to start increased the lead to 50-39.  The Friars fought hard to put points on the board and made it a six-point game after back-to-back shots from Aglubat and Chang found the bottom of the net.  However, it wasn’t too long before UST responded and did so in fashion closing out with a 9-4 run.  At the sound of the buzzer, the Growling Tiger Cubs raised their hand in victory and celebrated their second-straight Youth Games championship.

Friars Nic Aglubat brings the ball down court against UST. (photo by Rock Anciano.)

Friars Nic Aglubat brings the ball down court against UST. (photo by Rock Anciano.)

“It was a very experiencing and rewarding tournament,” said UST’s Erik Marcelo.  “All kinds of experience from the different teams allowed us to work on our game and improve on them.”

Luna’s 16 points led the Growling Tiger Cubs offensively.  Teammates Marcelo and Jison contributed eight and six points apiece.  In the losing effort, the Friars were led by Aglubat’s game-high 19 points, while teammate Chang added 12.

Panthers Club clinches third-place

In the consolation game, the Panthers Club took on Team Pampanga Select from the Philippines.  A game that could’ve gone either way kept everyone on the edge of their seats. When it came to a close it was the Panthers who clinch third-place after defeating their opponents 53-49.

The Panthers’ Jordan Hunter and LaRoy Robinson led their team with 14 points apiece.  In the losing effort, Pampanga’s Ogie Munoz scored a game-high 26 points, while teammate J. Tapang dropped 21.



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