For much of Saturday evening, Viernes Janitorial Services looked like they were going to push a Game 3. Tri-Omni Property Management had different plans.
With early fourth quarter pep, Tri-Omni battled through to win the Yukon Pinoy Basketball League title with a 93-87 win over Viernes in Game 2 at Vanier Catholics Secondary School.
“A lot of their key players were injured … EJ New, and he’s the heart and soul of their team,” said Tri-Omni coach/player Joesel Rumbaoa. “I told the guys that even though they have no EJ, we have to play hard.
“In Game 2 Viernes got into foul trouble, so we had to get the momentum. In the end it stopped, but we won with the help of my young players Ian (New) and RJ (Siosan).”
Quick-stealing Ian New and fast-breaking RJ Siosan – as well as net-driving Mez Labuguen – were the driving force for Tri-Omni on Saturday, especially during an eight-point run late in the game.
Tied 71-71 a minute into the fourth, Tri-Omni took the lead for the last time on a basket from Siosan. Then back-to-back steals from Labuguen and New, both delivered via fast break to Siosan for layups, made it 77-71. Tri-Omni finished the run as Joel Odulio grabbed a rebound, sent it to New, who sent it up court to Siosan – tick, tick, tick like clockwork – for another fast break strike.
Before the fourth quarter, “I told the guys to watch out for their key player, No. 18 (John) Madrigal, and keep attacking the basket,” said Rumbaoa. “We’re lucky we had a lot of interceptions and passes to RJ, and that’s why we were ahead for (eight) points at that time.
“I know Viernes wants to win also, but luckily we won in the end.”
Tri-Omni, who won 92-77 in Game 1, had some scary moments before the buzzer. Viernes pulled within one at 86-85 on a drive to the net by Madrigal before a three-point play from Labuguen reopened the gap for Tri-Omni. Then a potentially outcome-changing three-point attempt from Vic
Viernes at 89-87 with four seconds left was just off the mark. (Tri-Omni grabbed a quick four points with a basket and a pair of free throws in the final seconds.)
With 34 points in the game, Siosan was named his team’s MVP. He pocketed the same title at the end of the Yukon Basketball Championships in February, helping his high school team, the Vanier Crusaders, win a fifth straight senior boys title. New was on that team as well.
New, who put 16 on the board Saturday, was named season MVP for the league.
“RJ and Ian have been teammates for how many years? That’s why they know how to run the basketball,” said Rumbaoa. “I’m lucky that I got those two players.”
Labuguen, who registered 22 points Saturday, was named Best Player of the game for Tri-Omni.
Madrigal was top scorer for Viernes with 29 point and teammate David Mindanao had 28.
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