KFC saves their best for last. It’s a fourth-quarter team.
After trailing for most of the game, KFC launched a last-minute comeback to defeat Pilinians 75-70 in the final of the Whitehorse Fil-Can Basketball League at Porter Creek Secondary on Saturday.
It gave KFC its second straight title in the Filipino basketball league.
“Our team, from the start of the season, would always be like that,” said KFC captain Wren Agapito. “We’d be down by 10, 15, 17, 20, and we would come back in the fourth quarter. It’s really tough, but for some reason we’d always be like that.”
The Colonel’s crew began the fourth quarter down 59-49 and got back into the game by controlling the boards. KFC gobbled up almost every rebound off their net.
KFC caught up at 68-68 before Pilinians went up by two with 30 seconds left.
KFC’s James Labuguen made the steal of the game, getting the ball to John Apostol for a layup with 21 seconds remaining.
Fouled on the play, Apostol sunk a freethrow to make it 71-70.
Labuguen made a three-point play, putting in a layup and sinking a freethrow in the final seconds.
“It feels great. It was a heck of a ballgame and we didn’t expect it to be like that,” said Agapito. “It was so nice, so good for us, to win that game.”
KFC finished fourth in the regular season and had to beat top-seeded Viernes Janitorial twice in the playoffs to reach the final.
“Those were close games as well,” said Agapito. “It was like this game.”
Apostol led his team in the final with 23 points, while Aaron Diaz had 15 and Labuguen put 13 onto the board.
“I just very proud of this team,” said Agapito. “They’re young, they’re fast.”
Pilinians’ Noel Pagobo led the game in points with 41, sinking 15 of 22 free-throws. Ian Pagobo had 17 for the Pilinians.
The gold-medal game and the bronze game were both rematches from last year, but they didn’t both have the same result.
After placing fourth last year, Gray Management Services beat Viernes Janitorial 79-75 to take third place on Saturday.
“It’s OK. Probably the next conference we’re going to catch up,” said GMS captain Joesel Rumbaoa. “We have keep our team intact for next season. We have players we have to acquire from other teams.”
The third place game also saw a fourth-quarter comeback.
GMS led for the first half of the game but fell behind 59-56 on back-to-back three-pointers from Viernes’ Gian Gonzalo.
GMS made a 10-point run to start the fourth to take a 66-61 lead. Three consecutive fast-breaks from Luke Mahilum and Ian New widened the gap to 70-61.
New was GMS’s top-scorer with 23 points with three three-pointers. EJ New was second on the team with 21 after going on a 12-point spree for his team in the second quarter. Rumbaoa had 13 and Mahilum had 11.
Viernes’ John Madrical finished the game with 36 points while teammates David Mindanao and Christian Carino had 12 and 10 points respectively.
Saturday’s final, which was attended by Premier Darrell Pasloski, Yukon MP Ryan Leef and Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis, marked the completion of the Fil-Can basketball league’s fifth season.
The league started in 2008 with four teams, eight players each, and has grown to seven teams, with as many as 20 players a team.
Next season, for the first time, the league will allow each team to add two non-Filipino players to their roster.
“We’re going to collect all the names of Canadian players and distribute them to participating teams,” said league chairman Romy Gayangos. “A committee will decide (which players go to which teams) to balance the teams.
“We need to consider Canadian players because we’re here in Canada. It’s nice and more fun if they’re going to join us, but our only concern is how to balance the teams. It’s good for us if they’re going to join.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org