by Edwin Allan Diaz
Megaworld marched all the way to the finals of the Megaworld Group Cup basketball tournament after escaping with a nail-biting win against Empire East, 61-58, during their semifinals match held at the San Carlos Seminary Gymnasium on June 13.
Megaworld trailed by as much as 16 in the third quarter but clawed their way back after Empire East went into penalty early into the frame. “Five minutes pa lang foul trouble na [si Empire East]. We pushed the ball, kumuha ng fouls, at talagang humabol kami by converting on our free throws,” said Alex Solis of Accounts Management.
Solis assigned Megaworld’s guard, Lawrence Dumlao of Audit, to fish for fouls after Empire East went into penalty halfway into the third canto. “Sumugod lang kami nang sumugod, drive hard lang kasi penalty na ‘yung opponent. Free throws ang target namin hanggang sa makahabol,” said Dumlao.
Megaworld’s pesky defense and aggression allowed them to get back in the game and put the pressure on Empire East instead. “Pagdating ng third quarter, sabi ko maibaba lang sa single digit manageable na ‘yung hahabulin naming deficit. Bumaba siya paunti-unti, naging 11, 9, 8, 7. Pagpasok ng fourth quarter, six na lang ang lamang nila,” said Solis.
Dumlao converted all of his seven free throws in the fourth quarter, which later proved to be the turning point for Megaworld. “Inisip ko lang talaga manalo. Bukod sa masama pakiramdam ko, pinilit ko maglaro for the team. ‘Yun ang nasa isip ko habang nag-free throw,” saidDumlao.
Dumlao also thanked his teammates for entrusting the ball to him. He heeded the advice of Solis, echoing the latter’s words, “tiwala lang sa sarili, huwag mawawalan ng puso, at ‘wag mawawalan ng loob.”
Megaworld team captain Jake Ysla of Corporate Administration was proud of what his team achieved with the win. “Siyempre masaya kasi sa Megaworld ito. Pipilitin namin makuha ‘yung championship sa abot ng makakaya namin,” he said.
He praised Dumlao’s guts in crunch time, which he said paved the way for Megaworld to seal the win. “Pinilit na lang namin habulin ‘yung lamang ng kalaban. Nanalo naman kami sa tulong ng free throws ni Lawrence. Naitawid namin ‘yung laro,” said Ysla.
Ysla added that his team will now focus on their upcoming finals matchup with Global-Estate Resorts, Inc. (GERI). “Magpa-practice kami para sa championship, maayos ang rotation namin.”
In the second game, GERI took down the Global Companies, 65-59, to earn the right to face Megaworld in the finals.
Members of team Global Companies said they learned a lot from their loss game against GERI. “We learned that [we should] never underestimate our opponents based on their standing,” said team captain Jayson Nasayao of Info Systems Management.
The gym was jam-packed with GERI and Global Companies fans during the game. Even families of the employees were also in attendance that evening. The family of Global Companies’ small forward Angelo Dela Costa of Project Development was present during the match.
Angelo’s mother Nikol wished her son all the best. “Basketball has been his passion. Kahit hindi na siya varsity player, on the side naglalaro pa rin siya. Heart niya ‘yang basketball because ever since naman basketball player na siya,” said Nikol.
Christian Dela Costa was happy to see his younger brother return to the court. “Same as my mom, proud ako na nakikitang nasa court siya ulit. Alam kong passion niya ‘yan.”
The championship game between Megaworld and GERI takes place at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City this Friday, June 21.
Photos by Kevin Cliff Icabales and Mark Manlangit