February 12th, 2007
It will be top-ranked Chiang Kai Shek College (6-0) versus upset-conscious Grace Christian High School (4-4) and second-seeded Xavier School (6-1) versus third-ranked St. Stephen’s High School (5-2) in the Juniors Division semifinals of the Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association tournament.
To be played on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, at the Chiang Kai Shek gym, the CKSC-Grace Christian match will tip off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the Xavier-St. Stephen’s encounter at 7:00 p.m. As the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds following the six-game elimination phase, CKSC and Xavier will enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage over their respective opponents.
Should rubber matches be necessary (assuming CKSC and Xavier lose on Feb. 14), they would be held on Saturday, Feb. 17 (2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.).
During the elimination round, the CKSC Blue Dragons shellacked Grace Christian 85-67 while the Xavier Golden Stallions outraced St. Stephen’s 63-50.
Last Saturday, Feb. 10, unheralded Grace Christian completed its mastery of No. 4-ranked St. Jude Catholic School with a come-from-behind 59-57 victory. Grace Christian, ranked No. 5, trailed by as many as 14 points, 46-32, early in the third quarter, and was still down by six, 57-51, with two minutes left. An 8-0 windup by Grace sealed the fate of St. Jude - a three-pointer by Christian So (who also knocked in a trey with four minutes remaining to cut his school’s deficit to 56-51 from 56-48), a basket by Lawrence Anthony Chua, the game-winning driving layup by Patrick Ang at the 0.3.7 mark and the insurance free throw by Angelo So with 1.9 seconds left. Ang wound up with 17 points, followed by So with 11. St. Jude was led by Earl Golangco, who had 22 of his game-high 23 markers in the first half as his team was up, 44-32.
St. Jude, which dropped its final four assignments, came into the quarterfinals armed with a twice-to-beat advantage. However, it lost 52-43 to Grace Christian a day earlier, Feb. 9, necessitating a sudden-death playoff. Ang had 21 points and 20 rebounds for Grace Christian.
In other quarterfinal series, St. Stephen’s finished off sixth-ranked Uno High School (1-6) 88-63 Friday night despite a 32-point performance (the first and only 30-point game so far in the tournament) by Uno star guard Kevin Lee, and Xavier sent No. 7 and last-place Hope Christian home with a 0-7 record following a masterful 77-50 decision Saturday night.
Team skipper Justinn Sze topscored for Xavier with 19 points. Cat-quick Jasper Pua got 13, Gabriel Banal knocked in 10 and Alejandro Torres contributed nine as 11 players scored for the Gold and Blue. Xavier got off to a slow start, trailing by eight points, 12-4, to winless Hope in the early goings. The Stallions led by 33, 77-44, before a 6-0 windup by Hope cut the margin to 27.
As the No. 1 seed, Chiang Kai Shek received a quarterfinal bye and moved directly into the semifinals.
The best-of-three finals will be played on Wednesday Feb. 21 and Friday Feb. 23 and, if necessary, Monday Feb. 26.
The Final Four of the Aspirants Division of the Tiong Lian competitions also has been determined with four-time defending champion Xavier School, unbeaten in six games, taking on No. 4 seed St. Jude Catholic School (3-3) and No. 2 St. Stephen’s High School (5-1) clashing with No. 3 seed Chiang Kai Shek College (4-2).
Xavier and St. Stephen’s own a twice-to-beat advantage over their respective foes. That means St. Jude and CKSC have to win on Tuesday Feb. 13 to force sudden-death games on Thursday Feb. 15.
The Aspirants Division championship series will be played on Sunday Feb. 18 (2 p.m.) and Tuesday Feb. 20 (5:30 p.m.) and, if necessary, Thursday Feb. 22 (5:30 p.m.).
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