DEFENDING champion Chiang Kai Shek, Xavier School, and host St. Stephen’s High School bested separate rivals in contrasting fashions to jumpstart their respective title bids in the 43rd Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association-BonChon Chicken Juniors Championship at the CKSC gym in Manila.
Behind the gutsy plays of Jayson Jimenez, John Gallego, and Kimlee Bayquin, the reigning titlists rallied from a 22-point second-quarter deficit to beat Hope Christian College, 80-76, in a rematch of last year’s Finals.
Jimenez scattered 10 of his team-high 17 points in a 16-0 onslaught that enabled them to slice the deficit to seven, 48-41, and set the stage for an exciting finish in the featured match of a triple header in the opener of the country’s premier Fil-Chinese schools league.
Three other CKSC players scored in double figures with Gallego finishing with 15 markers, including a triple that knotted the count at 67-all. Bayquin and Al Salim also produced decent numbers, with Bayquin knocking down four crucial charities in the last 43.5 seconds.
While the Blue Dragons had to go through the proverbial eye of the needle to beat the Hope Christians, the Stephenians and the Golden Stallions needed just one big quarter to blow away their respective rivals in the event also supported by Solar Basketball TV, Molten and Summit Water.
The host squad threw St. Jude’s top gunners out of their comfort zones in the third quarter behind a rock-solid defense to hack out a 56-38 win, while the Golden Stallions blasted Grace Christian College, 114-44.