At the sting of despair, of weariness, and of a five-point lead that appeared deadly contemplating it was erected on the intersection of a formidable foe’s rising momentum and dwindling time, University of the Philippines (UP) had each cause to simply crumble in defeat.
No manner, mentioned JD Cagulangan.
They had already executed their time. Thirty-six years to be actual.
On Friday, Cagulangan made certain all that agony would come to an finish, rocking the coliseum together with his endgame heroics, together with a game-winning triple within the remaining second that lifted the Maroons to a 72-69 victory in opposition to the Ateneo Blue Eagles in Game 3 of the UAAP Season 84 males’s basketball finals at Mall of Asia Arena.
“It feels really great,” Cagulangan mentioned. “We’re finally champions.”
“At that given moment, I had no doubt that if he had the ball, he would execute the play,” mentioned rookie UP coach Goldwyn Monteverde. “And he did.”
The Maroons ended a 36-year watch for a crown and the defending champions’ three-year, iron-grip rule of the nation’s most glamorous varsity league by closing out with eight unanswered factors—all of which Cagulangan had a hand on—earlier than a mix of joyous followers in maroon and a shellshocked Ateneo trustworthy.
“We sated the hunger [of the UP community],” mentioned Bo Perasol, the previous Maroons coach who constructed the squad and handed the bench duties to Monteverde. “I hope we don’t have to wait for another 36 years [for another title].”
That’s a fear for an additional day. Friday was about celebrating the second a brand new UP hero—one who headed to Diliman when he couldn’t discover his place within the solar amid La Salle’s crowded rotation—wrote his title in Maroons lore.
Down 5 with 1:40 remaining, Cagulangan delivered hope in a steel-nerved three-pointer that trimmed the deficit to 67-69. With lower than 90 seconds left within the clock, the Maroons’ protection held on within the subsequent play, offering UP with a chance to knot the depend.
Cagulangan, pounced on that likelihood, drawing the protection’s consideration away from Malick Diouf after which feeding the reed-thin heart for a slam that knotted the depend at 69.
Ateneo’s Dave Ildefonso subsequent missed a pop-up jumper, placing the ball again within the palms of UP—and of Cagulangan. Waving off his teammates, the gutsy playmaker dribbled previous a display screen after which side-stepped for an open triple, which he drained with five-tenths of a second remaining, eliciting a roar from the Maroons aspect of the 15,132-strong crowd that shook the bayside enviornment. And with that, a dynasty that appeared assured an prolonged run got here crashing.
“If you look at my percentages, it was really bad, but the coaches still trusted me,” mentioned Cagulangan, who completed with a paltry 4-of-12 clip from the ground.
It was truly an evening when transferees rescued the Maroons.
Diouf, the previous Centro Escolar standout, completed with 17 factors, 9 rebounds and three steals and was adjudged Finals Most Valuable Player.
CJ Cansino, a former University of Santo Tomas captain who returned to motion after spending Games 1 and a couple of within the damage listing, additionally drilled in a vital game-tying three that tied the sport one final time in regulation and completed with 14 factors.
Cagulangan chipped in 13 factors, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and two steals.
SJ Belangel led the Blue Eagles with 27 factors. Ange Kouame added 12 extra with 14 rebounds, whereas Gian Mamuyac added 10 and 6 rebounds.
Belangel and Mamuyac conspired to place Ateneo on the cusp of a fourth straight crown. Belangel knocked in a basket whereas Mamuyac turned an Ildefonso go right into a nook three that dropped UP into that five-point gap.
That was when Cagulangan willfully took the reins and guided UP to the epic triumph.
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