MANILA, Philippines—Team Tarlac claimed the 2023 Smart-NBTC National Finals Division 2 championship with a come-from-behind win over Royal Trading Star Don Bosco-Dumaguete, 86-84, at Mall of Asia arena on Sunday.
Don Bosco-Dumaguete led by as much as 20 points in the first half before Team Tarlac had a masterclass second half to notch the city’s first-ever NBTC crown.
“I told them, in the third quarter, we should at least bring the deficit down to ten but we fell in love with the three-point line. They did not want to attack, all of them wanted to shoot triples and they didn’t play as a team. When we led early, they got too much confidence,” Team Tarlac coach Julius Dela Vega said.
“I told them that we need to play as a team. If one of them attacks, we all attack.”
Russell Jay Liwanag contributed 18 points while Jahmir Adrian Eligado chipped in 16 for Team Tarlac.
Don Bosco led by just one, 77-76, when Earl Sapasap escaped with a breakaway layup to spark Tarlac’s 6-1 spurt to take a pivotal 82-78 advantage with 2:56 minutes remaining.
Kit Bonus sealed the deal for Tarlac, 86-82, with 42 ticks left. Bonus came away with 21 points, four rebounds, five steals and three blocks.
Trailing, 59-39, at the intermission, Team Tarlac limited Don Bosco to just five points in the third quarter, setting up a nip-and-tuck payoff period.
Matthew Jucom led all scorers with 25 points for Don Bosco while MJ Hendric Vailoces and Jay Stephen Garupil added 16 and 15 points, respectively. John Mycco Deposoy and Cary Bruce Aure tallied 10 points each in a losing effort.
For the complete collegiate sports coverage including scores, schedules and stories, visit Inquirer Varsity.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.