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FEU repulses USC for third PCCL title

Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Despite having to share the honor with San Beda due to a late ruling, FEU became only the second team to win the PCCL title thrice after downing USC, 82-77, in a champion-versus-champion affair in the other national final at the FilOil Flying V Arena on Thursday night.

Seldom-used players Ken Holmqvist and Jojo Trinidad starred for the UAAP champions Tamaraws, who played without most of their key guys from the said conquest and withstood a gallant effort from the CESAFI champions Warriors.

Behind the steady shooting of Holmqvist, FEU opened an eight-point cushion, 24-16, at the end of the first quarter.

But USC toughened up on defense in the second quarter, limiting FEU to only eight for most of the second before four quick points gave the latter the lead, 36-34, at the half.

The Tamaraws then restored some order in the third quarter and extended their advantage to eight again, 57-49, at the end of the quarter.

But the Warriors opened the final frame with six straight points to cut the lead to two, 57-55, with 8:32 remaining.

FEU tried to pull the rout anew as the team countered with a 13-3 run capped by back-to-back triples from Holmqvist's brother Steve to widen the gap to 12, 70-58, with 4:41 left.

USC, however, still had one more push, making eight unanswered points to come to within four, 66-70, with 2:57 remaining.

The Tams maintained their poise in the end and walked away with what would essentially be their first national title since winning back-to-back titles in 2004 and 2005.

Trinidad led FEU, which instantly got another championship in its first outing since winning the UAAP pennant two weeks ago, with 19 points, most of them coming in the second half, while Ken Holmqvist made his first eight shots en route to a 17-point game along with 11 rebounds.

Ian Tagapan carried the fight for USC, which failed to become the first non-Metro Manila team to win the PCCL, with 20 points in a game where Shooster Olago had a quiet 14.

Box Scores:

FEU 82-Trinidad 19, K. Holmqvist 17, S. Holmqvist 19, Bienes 9, Orizu 8, Comboy 7, Ebona 4, Nunag 4, Lee Yu 2, Roxas 2, Delos Santos 0, Arong 0, Bayquin 0

USC 77-Tagapan 20, Olago 14, Toyambi 13, McAloney 9, Pepito 7, Ortega 6, Laguyo 5, Magat 3, Maconocido 0, Rabat 0, Lim 0, Ecarma 0

Quarterscores: 24-16, 36-34, 57-49, 82-77

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