CAMEROONIAN Danny Masso and John Flores carried Olivarez College past Philippine Merchant Marine School, 78-66, on Tuesday to clinch the men’s championship of the 20th National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) basketball tournament at the Rizal Technological University gymnasium in Mandaluyong City.
The two scored crucial baskets in the last 90 seconds, allowing the Sea Lions to take the deciding game of the best-of-three finals of the cagefest supported by Mikasa and Molten Balls.
Masso, a 21-year-old tourism sophomore, just came back from a foot injury and scored only 12 points, but played his best game in the title series by sinking three of four free throws and scoring on a driving layup against Vicson Pajimola in the last 29 seconds that gave the Sea Lions a 71-66 lead.
Flores, one of five graduating Olivarez players, was adjudged the tournament MVP as he came up with his best output in the series with 18 points, including four free throws in the final 18 seconds.
His charities clinched it for the Sea Lions, 75-66.
“I told the boys to find their man and match up with them. They (Mariners) had a good start and PMMS had a big lead. But, I was confident in the boys,” said Sea Lions coach Michael Saguiguit, who also drew inspiration from his wife Shem, who is about to give birth to their third child, Shey, anytime this month.
Their second-born Mikee was born on the week of the Sea Lions’ first-ever crown in 2010.
With school owner Dr. Pablo Olivarez cheering them on, the Sea Lions fought their way back from a 44-54 deficit against the deposed champions in the third period.
Ardy Dizon, who led the team with 19 points, put the Sea Lions back on top, 59-58, in the last 6:56 with his two charities.
Jake Yagonia, named in the Mythical Team with teammate Dan Reverente, along with Dizon and Eldridge Corpus of Olivarez College, powered PMMS with 22 points, while Pajimola had 13.