Metro League: Caloocan teams live to fight another day

Cheered on by a wild home crowd, both the Caloocan 17-and-under and men’s squads repelled visiting teams from Bacoor to forge a winner-take-all Game Three in their respective Metro League Finals showdown late Friday night at the Caloocan Sports Complex.

Caloocan-Gerry’s Grill fended off Bacoor Strike sa Serbisyo in Game 2 of their Reinforced (2nd) Conference best-of-3 Finals 78-73 while Caloocan-Arceegee dominated Bacoor City Agimat 88-60 also in their own 17-and-under best-of-3 championship duel in the M-League that is backed by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) with Barangay 143 as league presentor.

Prince Orizu of Bacoor Strike battles three Caloocan Supremos defenders. (Metro League photo)
Prince Orizu of Bacoor Strike battles three Caloocan Supremos defenders. (Metro League photo)

Both the Caloocan junior and men’s squads thus tied the series at 1-1 with a golden chance to cap off an epic twinkill in the deciding Game Three of both the 17-and-under and reinforced titular showdowns slated either Saturday or Sunday next week at the Strike Gym in Bacoor.

Led by the triumvirate of Robbi Marion Darang, Johnnel Rey Bauzon and Joseph Brutas, the Caloocan Supremos plunged back to action first and took care of business, dealing previously unbeaten Bacoor Strikers their first and lone loss in 12 games in the tournament.

Darang put up 16 markers, five boards and seven assists, Bauzon added 18 points while Brutas also chipped in 16 points, which came with six rebounds and four assists to lead the Supremos in a monumental win that avenged their 72-78 Game One loss in the M-League Reinforced Finals which is also bankrolled by Synergy 88, World Balance, Excellent Noodles and San Miguel Corporation as major sponsors.

Caloocan actually led early with a 38-25 lead and had control of the game but Bacoor, showing the form that made it the only unbeaten team since the eliminations, crept back and was just within striking distance when Darang led his team to a 73-63 lead midway through the final frame and the Supremos simply coasted along to the win.

RJ Ramirez and King Descamento served as the only bright spots with 22 and 15 points, respectively, for Bacoor Strikers whose dream of sweeping the entire M-League tournament came to an abrupt end.

The win of the Caloocan’s Reinforced squad against the undisputed No. 1 and erstwhile unbeaten team set the tone and definitely motivated its 17U counterparts which manhandled Bacoor City Agimat, 88-60, in their separate 17U Finals Game Two battle.

With ace gunner John Sherick Estrada leading the charge, Caloocan-Arceegee had no difficulty racing to a quick 26-11 lead which it never relinquished en route to a convincing 28-point win, more than making up for its close 81-85 Game One loss last Tuesday in the M-League 17-and-under championship tilt that is also supported by Gerry’s Grill, Summit Water, Alcoplus, Nature’s Spring and Goodfellow.

Estrada exploded for a conference-high 37 points, which he added with 13 rebounds and six assists to spearhead the Junior Supremos’ virtually unchallenged attack while Denniere Pancho added 12 markers.

Pauloh Villarin, meanwhile, had 18 markers in a losing cause for Bacoor Agimat which failed to complete a sweep of the M-League titular showdown for the 17-and-under boys division that also has SMS Global Technologies, Inc. as official livestream and technology partner, Spalding as official ball, Team Rebel Sports as official outfitter, PLDT as official internet service provider and Manila Bulletin as media partner.

The scores:
Caloocan-Gerry’s Grill 78 – Darang 19, Bauzon 18, Brutas 16, De Mesa 11, Niang 7, Sombero 5, De Leon 2, Tay 0, Enriquez 0

Bacoor Strike sa Serbisyo 73 – Ramirez 22, Descamento 15, Pangilinan 12, Montuano 6, Orizu 5, Malabag 5, Miranda 4, Maligon 2, Bugarin 2, Aquino 0

Quarterscores: 11-7, 38-25, 60-45, 78-73

Caloocan-Arceegee 88 – Estrada 37, Pancho 12, El-Hag 11, Bustria 11, Principe 4, Gazzingan 3, Gines 2, Valencia 2, Cuales 2, Nieva 2, Santos 2, Lorenzo 0

Bacoor Agimat 60 – Villarin 18, Porcadas 12, Torrijos 7, Pecho 6, Melencio 5, Torno 4, Aranilla 3, Cornand 2, Gutierez 2, Bautista 1, Buhay 0, Rocha 0, Corrales 0

Quartescores: 26-11, 41-25, 68-46, 88-60