Stallions triumph in UCCL opener, edge Bravehearts, 85-82

The De La Salle Lipa (DLSL) Stallions flexed their basketball prowess in the first game of the 13th United Collegiate Championship League (UCCL), downing the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities (FAITH) Bravehearts with a tight 3-point advantage, 85-82, at FAITH Colleges, Tanauan City, Aug.17. 

In the opening of the game, Bravehearts’ Jhon Millares quickly fired a two-point shot in the first 17 seconds of the clock. The Stallions, however, immediately countered with Christian Jerome Gutierrez’ own two-point shot that provided the first score for the Lipa-based team, 2-2.

Emmanuel Vino sizes up Jeremie Capili in a transition offense. (K. Afurong)

Early in the game, the Stallions outshined the Tanauan-based troops with Raphael Dimayuga’s three consecutive two-point shots, coupled with DLSL’s Christian Gutierrez’ easy two-point free throw, 10-2.

Despite a slow start, the team in blue still tried to throw counter punches through Alexis Ramos’ easy lay-up and CJ Tan’s arching two-point shot, 10-6.

Determined to derail their opponent, the Stallions team captain Jeremie Capili delivered a smooth three-point shot preceding a couple of two-point jump shots from Jed Claud and Ian Abila to surge to a 15-point lead, 17-6.

The Bravehearts gassed up late in the first quarter, allowing Eloh Navarez’ to drop two consecutive lay-ups followed by the last 5-second three-point bank of Dhave Lalap to cut the gap by only four points, 17-13.

Both teams sustained their mid-range jumpers as they entered the second quarter, with DLSL’s Michael Baldovino responding to FAITH’s Niño Dominguez, 19-15.

The Stallions kept their rhythm as Capili continued to drop effective three-point shots along with the mid-range contributions of Jed Maruen Claud that pinned the team in blue at 33-23.

Stallion big man, Jerome Gutierrez, secures the ball from the Bravehearts’ possession after a missed shot. (K. Afurong)

Despite the Stallions’ tough defense, the Bravehearts were still able to cut the scores at the end of the quarter as the Adam Fernando and Jhon Millares tandem raged with two-point jump shots, 37-30.

As the second half of the game started, Capili’s three consecutive three-point shots, paralyzed the opponent at 46-34.

In spite of the setback, the blue-clad men were still determined to win the match as they remained steadfast with Tan and Navarez making consecutive long range attempts, 55-47, still in favor of the Stallions.

Determined to break the Bravehearts, the Stallions rallied with the two-point jump shots of Ian Abila that were followed by Gutierrez’ scorching teardrops and layups which served the Lipa-based team a seven-point dominance before entering the final quarter, 63-56.

Braveheart Jhon Millares leads their team’s offense with his points in the paint. (K. Afurong)

The pressure heightened up as the fourth quarter began, allowing FAITH’s Navarez and Ramos to blaze with their two-point baskets, cutting the lead by three, 63-60.

The Stallions’ defense deteriorated as Bravehearts’ Ramos easily sank a layup amidst the Stallion’s towering blocks, debilitating the team from Lipa with only a one-point lead. However, DLSL’s Dimayuga’s long range three-point shot gained back the team’s confidence, 66-62.

Towards the end, it became a struggle for the FAITH squad to surpass the Stallions as DLSL’s Andaya further asserted their team’s dominance by raining down three-pointers, 84-79.

Eyeing to tighten the scoreboard, Bravehearts’ Ponjee Mabuyo managed to cut the Stallions’ advantage by two through his three-point blast in the last nerve-racking 16 seconds, 84-82.

Team captain Jeremie Capili closes the gap between the Green Stallions and the FAITH Bravehearts with a fast break shot. (K. Afurong)

With the heated matchup, top-gunner Capili sustained his commanding plays, finishing the game with his one-point free throw owing to FAITH’s Ramos’ personal foul that closed the game with a hard-fought three-point lead, 85-82.

”Ginagawa lang namin palagi ang best namin sa training man o sa game. Bukod dito, may pinagplanuhan din kaming trap na parang naging weapon namin para manalo ngayon dito sa laro,’’ Capili said on their performance. 

The men’s basketball elimination games will resume Aug. 23 at FAITH Colleges, Tanauan City.

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