Pampanga squad gears up for Palarong Pambansa by steamrolling through opposition
The Infant Jesus Delta side celebrates another championship. Snow Badua

THE future Abuevas and Santoses of Pampanga are starting to make waves very early.

Carrying the colors of Infant Jesus Delta, the province's top prospects managed by Pampaga vice governor Dennis Pineda dominated the Pampanga Public Schools South Zone basketball tournament by beating the opposion by an insane average margin of 61.75 points.

The Delta team first annihilated AMA Computer College before stamping its class against St. Vincent School, 76-24 in the eliminations. Semifinal rival Holy Child Masantol College raised the white flag at the start of the third period after Infant Jesus racked up a 65-9 lead on Friday afternoon.

“Hindi na kinaya, sumuko na yung kalaban namin. Ayaw na nila mapahiya kaya nag-quit na sila sa third quarter,” said Infant Jesus shooting coach Totoy Marquez, a former PBA player.

The finals on Saturday against host Mary Mother Eugenie School of Minalin was no different.

Batang PBA star Renz Nicdao led by way for the team of coach Humperdinck Dimatulac which established leads as big as 78 points on the way to an 88-27 victory and a fourth successive victory.

“Mabigat po talaga yung kalaban, lalo na sa depensa, solid po ang Infant. At the same time, yung teamwork nila andun, sobrang disciplined yung team,” said Israel Pineda, coach of the Mary Mother side.

Dimatulac said the performance is  exactly what he expected from the team as it gears up for the Palarong Pambansa, which has proved elusive for the Pampanga side over the last three years.

“Wala sa amin yung championship na ito. Gusto kasi namin makuha ang titulo ng Palaro, national level talaga ang target namin,” said Dimatulac. “Natutuwa nga kami kay Vice Gov (Pineda) kasi kahit papano, hindi siya nawawalan ng kumpiyansa sa amin.”

Pineda’s longtime consultant Allan Trinidad warned the battle for the Palarong Pambansa title will be even tougher.

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“Marami kasi kaming players from the last Batang PBA championship ang kinuha na ng ibang schools gaya ng NU. Yung MVP lang na si Mark Mallari, andun na. So ang problema, pag nag Palaro, Manila na naman ang dadalin nila,” said Trinidad, who also mentioned other top discoveries from the province like James Allen Dela Pena, Gab Baluyot and Joshua Dela Cruz who are now with the Bulldogs.

Other top players of Pineda like Justin Baltazar, Larry Muyang and Mark Dyke are now with the Dela Salle Green Archers in the UAAP.

“Basta, we will continue discovering and developing new talents. Andyan na kami eh, so gusto naming patunayan na Pampanga ang isa sa best producers ng high-caliber basketball stars, hindi lang para sa mga partner schools namin, kundi pati para sa bansa,” said Pineda.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @snowbadua