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Griffins clobber Vipers again to repeat as champions


TEXT   BY   MIKEL   STEVEN   B.   LUY
PHOTOS   BY   MARK   LOUIE   BALLADARES

S ame stakes, same teams – same result

In a rematch of last year’s men’s basketball finals, the Accountancy Griffins once again clobbered the Business and Management Vipers, 78-62, to win the Palarong Atenista 2015 title and repeat as champions.

Reigning two-time most valuable player Joseph Clydel Pestañas led the ACC Griffins with his 24 points while the B&M Vipers relied on the steady hands of Earl Hiso to guide the way.

Karlo Aranjuez of the Griffins provided ample support with 19 points and Dave Sotto of the Vipers led their scoring column with 13 markers. Viper Franz Kato also had a stellar outing, going for a perfect 3/3 from the field for 6 points.

The rematch, which was held in front of a raucous Almendras Gym crowd last Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, marked the second straight time that the two teams have met each other in the finals.

Aside from the repeat, the Griffin win also bags them their third championship in the last four years and their fourth straight finals appearance. Their lone defeat came at the hands of the Engineering and Architecture Tigers last 2013.

Lopsided Contest

On paper, the Vipers appeared to be the loaded and much stronger team. But from start to finish, it was the Griffins who had full control of the game.

From the get-go, the Griffins quickly pounced on the unwary Vipers and jumped to an early 17-4 advantage. With team captain Tarranza hitting his first two shots, the Griffin offense found their groove early on.

In the start of the second quarter, the Vipers made a run of their own courtesy of the play of Dave Sotto and a couple of Hiso mid-range jumpers to pull within two points of the Griffins. But, that was as close as the Vipers would get in regaining the lead as after a quick timeout, the Griffins responded with a flurry of baskets that the Vipers seemingly couldn’t stop. The lead ballooned back to fifteen and the Griffins never looked back again.

Before halftime, the Vipers already started showing signs of frustration, as Hiso initiated unnecessary contact and had a brief exchange of words with Ralph Honorico of the Griffins.

The third quarter and fourth quarters saw a bit of the same theme; the Griffins continued to pile up to their lead, which eventually reached 25 points. Miguel Gancio’s energy and hustle were contagious to the Griffins, as every time he made a play, the crowd went crazy and his teammates responded with plays of their own.

Tempers flared once again late in the third, as Jewel Evangelio of the Griffins and Sotto of the Vipers got tangled up in mid-court.

By this time, the body language of B&M players already indicated signs of giving up. Sotto was the only player who looked like he still wanted to fight, and his valiant effort netted him several respectable token plays. The Vipers eventually succumbed to the Griffins, 78-64.

Asked about how they weathered the Viper run early in the second quarter and what he told his guys to regroup them, Accountancy team captain Joseph Clydel Pestañas shared, “Ganun talaga. Basketball is a game of runs. So, when the B&M Vipers made their run, we made an effort to adjust to them. Once naka-adjust na kami, lumobo na ulit yung lamang.”

Tarranza also mentioned that being the underdog was their motivation to win this game.

“Kahit champion kami last year, wala sa amin ang pressure at hindi kami ang team to beat. Underdog parin kami. That was our motivation coming into this game,” He said.

Griffin Chemistry

B&M stalwart Denzel Ngo, who despite the loss found time to share his sentiments after the game, said that the biggest deciding factor in their match was the chemistry of the Griffins.

“Chemistry. They got it. They swing the ball well, and they’re always at the right place at the right time,” He explained.

“Bad transition defense, turnovers, and the inability capitalize on their mistakes hurt us as well,” he added.

Asked about how the ride has been throughout the several years that he’s played for the B&M Vipers, the downtrodden Ngo only had a few words to say.

“If given another chance, we’d gladly do it again. But this is my last year. It was what it was,

“It’s been fun. I won’t be with the team the next time around, but I’ll be rooting for them. I hope they get ‘em next year,” He said emotionally.

No "I" in "Team"

The trademark teamwork and balanced play of the Accountancy Griffins have always been the aces up their sleeves. Throughout the tournament, teams visibly struggled defending them because anyone in their team could possibly score and everybody was willing to give up a good shot for a great shot. The finals were no exception, as they had the Vipers scrambling to defend when their offense was clicking on all cylinders.

Accountancy team captain Joseph Clydel Pestañas explains that despite being the reigning two-time MVP, everyone is treated equally in their team and everybody listens to one another.

“I’m just really thankful for my teammates and our coach and the respect that they give me as a senior,” He said proudly.

“As a team, gina-paminaw namo ang isa’t-isa. Kana lang jud. We play as a team. We play not for the name in our backs, but for the name in our fronts.”