HOPE Christian High School, again drawing big games from Joebert Mercado and Jollo Go, outlasted St. Stephen’s High School, 82-70, in the 2nd Philippine Secondary Schools Basketball Championship on Monday at the Chiang Kai Shek College gym.
Mercado fired 25 points on top of nine rebounds, two steals and a block, while Go buried eight triples for 24 points as the defending champions rebounded from a 70-77 defeat to San Beda and finished with a 4-1 record in Group B eliminations.
“Our goal for the game was to give all the players the playing time in preparation for the quarterfinals. Though my second unit struggled a bit, I still commend all the players for their effort,” said Hope Christian coach Stevenson Tiu.
Meanwhile, NCAA champion San Beda goes for a sweep of Group B elims when it battles Ateneo on Wednesday at the close of the elimination round of the 11-team tournament sponsored by Ironcon Builders, MEC Computer, Hapee Toothpaste, Welcoat Paints, Dickies Underwear, Jumbo Plastic Linoleum, Wrangler, Ever Bilena, Davies Paint and Spray & Seal Tire Sealant.
Tiong Lian heavyweights Xavier and Chiang Kai Shek College collide in another crucial match.
UAAP champion National University (2-1) also tries to advance to the next round when it collides with Mapua (1-2), in Group A after the La Salle Zobel-Jose Rizal University tussle. The winner in the La Salle-JRU encounter will earn the last quarterfinal berth in Group B.
St. Stephen’s appeared headed for an upset win when it took a 34-31 lead through the courageous effort of Pierce Chan who sparked a 10-0 run. But Mercado scattered 10 points in a telling 16-2 counter-attack as Hope Christian regained the lead for good, 47-34.
Chan paced St. Stephen’s with 31 points and 11 boards.