FRANCIS Gabriel Escandor provided the needed firepower in the homestretch to carry Ateneo de Davao past archrival Assumption College of Davao, 74-66, in the finals of the DACS basketball tournament on Sunday at the Davao City Recreation Center.
The prolific 6-2 forward fired 16 points to lead the Blue Knights, who bucked the absence of four key players in the championship match. Shifty combo guard Axel Doromal and Ion Angeles provided the needed support to Escandor with timely hits from beyond the arc and kamikaze-like drives.
Ateneo coach Miggy Solitaria praised his wards for showing pure determination throughout the ballgame in the absence of starting center Vade Alagao (knee surgery), Jethro Taculin, (sprained ankle), Raphael Francisco (twisted ankle), and Dom Cane (age disqualification).
“I really admire the efforts of my boys despite the fact that three of my key players were injured and Dom Cane was declared overaged. He was born 1998 and the league requires players born 1999 up. They really wanted to win,” said Solitaria, who celebrated Ateneo’s second straight title this year after winning the Flying V Filoil Invitational last month.
Ateneo’s only title loss this year was in the 4th Royal Mandaya Hotel Cup. All three finals encounters were against the Warriors.
The win gave Ateneo the right to represent the DACS in the forthcoming Davao City Athletic Association (DCAA) meet late this year. The DCAA is the final eliminator for the Davao team to play in the Davao Regional Athletic Association (DAVRAA) meet, which also serves as the eliminator for the Palarong Pambansa.
Solitaria said Ateneo is set to join the Jesuit Athletic Meet (JAM) on November 4-8 followed by the NBTC tournament also in the same month.
“I am happy with my team now. Ef (Escandor), Axel (Doromal) and Ion (Angeles) provide the scoring while the defensive end is taken cared of by Josh Barrientos, Dariel Manliguez and Christian Bacalso. I just hope that the three injured players get back in form before the JAM and the NBTC,” said the multi-titled Solitaria.