SBC, FEU Outlast PSSBC Rivals
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UAAP champion Far Eastern University-Diliman and NCAA titlist San Beda College needed clutch plays from their top guns at crunch time to dodge the upset bids of their unfamiliar but determined challengers in the opening of the 1s Philippine Secondary Schools Basketball Championship (PSSBC) Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.

With little knowledge about their rivals’ strength, the Baby Tamaraws were forced to play extra five minutes to beat the Chiang Kai Shek College Dragons, 81-77, through the MVP-like performance of Jerie Pingoy.

The 5-foot-8 Pingoy, who is likely to suit up for the Tamaraws next season, struck hardest in overtime as he produced a couple tough jumpers that all but took the fight out of the Metro Manila Tiong Lian Basketball Association (MMTLBA) champions.

Trumpeted as the next Johnny Abarrientos of FEU, Pingoy sizzled with 22 points aside from helping set plays for his teammates, including Roger and JJ Domingo who chipped in 12 markers each.

The Dragons, led by Joshua Tan and Al Salim, had two chances to steal the win in regulation but they blew it away – no thanks to FEU’s solid defense.

FEU’s thrilling win proved to be just an appetizer as the next three games were also fought animatedly with San Beda, University of Santo Tomas and San Sebastian College beating their respective rivals.

Like the Baby Tamaraws, the Red Cubs also teetered in the brink of defeat but were rescued by former Philippine U-18 standout Arvie Tolentino who imposed his will inside to complete the team’s 95-91 come-from-behind win over Hope Christian High School – another team from MMTLBA.

It was a bitter loss for the Hope Christians who led most of the way, leading 65-58, early in the payoff period but fell into poor shot selections, allowing the Red Cubs to escape with the win in the tournament backed by Ironcon Builders, Jumbo Plastic Linoleum, Wrangler, Dickies Underwear, MEC Networks, Blackwater Sports, Hapee Toothpaste, and Welcoat.

UST, on the other hand, created a mild stir by downing deposed UAAP champion National University, 72-63, while the SSC Staglets capped a tense-filled day with a 108-98 overtime win over multi-titled MMTLBA champion Xavier School.

Though CKSC, Hope and Xavier lost, league vice chairman Dioceldo Sy, who played for Uno High School during his Tiong Lian days, was happy with their performance, saying they succeeded in sending their message to UAAP and NCAA teams.

“Tiong Lian teams are fast catching up with UAAP and NCAA teams, sooner baka tatalunin na sila,” said Sy, who thanked Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) Executive Director Sonny Barrios and well-known sports analyst-columnist Quinito Henson for gracing the affair.

Meantime, the FEU-CKSC game will be aired on Basketball TV (Channel 34) on Wednesday at 11 p.m. through the sponsorship of Davies Paints and Bon Chon Chicken.