Jaguars roar anew ending 16 years title drought

October 06, 2011

The 16 year drought is over. The Jaguars of the University of the Cordilleras roared once again ending 16 years of frustration after claiming the scalp of the Cardinals of the University of Baguio Thursday, October 6, afternoon at the Cordillera Career Development College to win their best of three finals for the crown of the Baguio Benguet Educational Athletic League's centerpiece event.

The Jaguars did that by posting a hard earned 71-67 victory to finish off the Cardinals in game three of their best of three finals.

"We're just very happy, and it's a sort of a birthday gift for me," said Jaguars head coach John Carlo Domingo, who turned 24 last September 28, the youngest coach to ever win a crown in the BBEAL.Leilmar Garcia proved to be the Jaguars catalyst as he poured in 15 points, while Jeconiah Solamo and Chad Russel Villanueva added 14 and 13 markers a piece.

Slotman Jopson Dail had another double double - 12 points and 12 boards - while Andrew Payas was the fifth Jaguar to score in double digit with his 11 points.

After leading 19-17 at the end of the first quarter, Keiffer Occassion all but bailed the Cardinals with his four treys for a 30-27 UB lead. But the Jaguars closed with a 12-2 run for a 39-32 halftime lead.Then Kevin Orduna rose to the occasion as he helped UB trail the Jaguars and cut the lead to only, 64-65, with 3:41 remaining in the game.

The Jaguars did not relent this time as they coasted to the win. "It was team play," admitted Solamo. Orduna and Occasion led the Cardinals with 24 and 22 points each.

Long Drought

it was nearly a generation when the green shirts from Gov. Pack Road hoisted the title. It was a dream come true for the sophomore coach Domingo whose last year with the Jaguars four years ago ended in frustration when a three point heave of a rookie turned to naught that sent the Admirals of CCDC to the finals and eventually winning the title.

None of the players could well remember when UC won. Not for the 22-year old Solamo, practically a toddler when the then Baguio Colleges Foundation named Shields upset the UB Cardinals, the city's known basketball giant in what was known as the Baguio-Benguet College Athletic Association.

Then UB wrested the title the next year (BBCAA was renamed Baguio Educational Athletic League with CCDC and Benguet State University pulling out of the league) when BCF lost its coach right before the games started after he was suspended for fielding the wrong player in the Palaro.

That team, which lost half of the dreaded SEVEN (Joey Bona, Mark Sta. Maria, Alex Cenzon and John Paul Javier remained, while losing Joel Bona, Macky Mondina and Butch Manalaysay) that won the title, acquired fancied high school graduates Ramonchito Estigoy and the late Ryan Ancheta, whose dreams of playing for Nap Garcia turned to nightmare when the Saint Louis Burgos gym was rocked with a magnitude 6 earthquake halfway into the game.

That dashed their hope of winning a title on their first year.Estigoy went on to the World Streetball Finals but the two skipped the next year just as UB collected its second and returned the following year as red shirts where Estigoy proved his mettle by winning the title for the team against SLU in game three of the finals with a long triple just as the buzzer sounded.

That followed a long BCF/UC wait for a finals appearance until 2003 (the year before CCDC and BSU returned) when rated first, UC needed to beat SLU just once to advance to the finals. But that was another nightmare as SLU completed a miracle come back that led to a finals with UB but a shortened one when the Navigators refused to play a closed game three finale.

Solamo admitted that his team lacked the men, like in 1995, with only eight players suiting up and practically only six playing with one of them in the freezer after a Wednesday commotion with Richard Bilibli of UB."Clamp down on (Kevin) Ordunia," was one of the task set for them and the Jaguars slowed down the Cardinal playmaker enabling another win, their second this year against the multi-titled Cardinals.

The Jaguars extended the finals after shelllacking the Cardinals, 79-71, Wednesday at their court.That game saw three of the Cardinals top men - Ordunia, Clyriel Elefante and Richard Bilibli - limited to just 20 points from the 67 markers they made during the first game.

Bilibli actually sat down practically for half of the game after he got involved in a brawl with Jones Banusan while battling for a loose ball early in the third. The two engaged in a fisticuff with Banusan nearly mauled near the UB bench.The two did not play in the deciding game three.

After that game, Domingo admitted that the loss of Banusan did not help their cause even during the second game.The Jaguars, however, did not give up to pressure like last year as they limited Elefante from beyond the arch.

Dail had a monstrous game after checking 29 points, 14 in the first period alone, and 11 boards, a third of Jaguars' 33 and nearly half of UB's 23."Malaking kawalan si Richard sa loob kasi hirap kami macontrol yung rebound," admitted Cardinals head coach Rogelio Basto.UC got 10 from playmaker Leilmar Garcia, and nine each from Jeconiah Solamo and Banusan.Coming off the bench, UB's Ocasion topped the Cardinals with 20 points including four triples, while Darwin Balomres added 12 points. Pigeon M. Lobien

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