JOEL Cagulangan sank two pressure-packed free throws to cap La Salle Greenhills’ comeback from 14 points down to dethrone Mapua, 75-74, on Friday in Game Three for the NCAA Season 93 juniors basketball tournament championship.
Cagulangan finished with 19 points but his two clutch charities gave the Greenies a one-point lead with 37.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. LSGH also pulled stops in the final seconds with Mike Enriquez missing Mapua’s last gasp shot.
The 5-foot-8 Greenies guard was later named Finals MVP.
It was La Salle Greenhills’ first-ever NCAA juniors basketball crown since the school was formed in 1959. La Salle actually won a juniors crown in the 1955-1956 season but the high school campus was still in Taft Avenue.
The win by LSGH also came a day after La Salle begins its own quest for the UAAP crown on Saturday against Ateneo.
Joshua David had 27 points to also spearhead LSGH’s comeback from a 46-32 deficit early in the third quarter.
LSGH coach Marvin Bienvenida was still at a loss for words when interviewed by reporters minutes after clinching the title.
“After the buzzer sounded, it seemed like a dream,” Bienvenida said. “Everyone was hugging me. Kakaiba. I can’t describe it in any words.”
After being down by double digits, LSGH slowly clawed its way back, and finally took the lead on a triple by David, 73-72, with 2:22 left in the fourth quarter. Warren Bonifacio hit two free throws but Cagulangan countered with two crucial charities of his own to the delight of a predominantly raucous LSGH crowd.
Despite spending most of the eliminations in the top two, the Greenies needed to win a playoff game against San Sebastian for No. 4, before beating top-seed San Beda twice in the Final Four.
LSGH won Game One, 74-68, but lost the next match to Mapua, 91-81, to force a rubber match.
Clint Escamis had 21 points, while Carl Bryan Lacap added 13 points and eight rebounds.Bonifacio had 10 points and 20 rebounds but only made six out of his 16 free throws, most of the misses coming in the fourth canto.
LSGH 75 - David 27, Cagulangan 19, Lao 8, Fornilos 6, Marcos 5, Lepalam 4, Mosqueda 3, Perez 3, Morales 0, Pedrosa 0, Sangco 0.
Mapua 74 - Escamis 21, Lacap 13, Gozum 12, Bonifacio 10, Enriquez 8, Ramos 6, Garcia 4, Jabel 0, Dennison 0, Arches 0, Sarias 0.
Quarters: 15-19, 32-44, 53-56, 75-74.