Sacred Heart opens NBTC title defense with comeback win over Traill

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY—Sacred Heart passed an acid test in the first game of its NBTC title defense bid with a 76-72 victory over Traill at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.

The defending champion rallied from 17 points down to spoil an impressive debut by the Thai high school, who like Canada's Durham Crossover is an international guest team for this year's edition.

Traill led, 47-30, in the third quarter and appeared to be giving Sacred Heart a bad start to its back-to-back title campaign as it withstood its opponent's fightback later in the period.

But the Magis Eagles opened the fourth frame with 12 straight points and kept the Dragons scoreless in the first 5:30 of the period to lead, 64-61.

Johann Rubite stopped Traill's bleeding with a triple to equalize, 64-all, with 4:24 left, but Sacred Heart, led by Eroll Pastor, responded with an 8-2 run to go up, 72-66, with 2:13 remaining.

The Dragons had one final push, scoring six unanswered points, the last three off a Gillian Flores triple with 30.5 seconds left, to tie the game one more time, 72-all.

Flores, committed a crucial blunder when he fouled Jed Colonia while putting up a tight defense on him.

Colonia split his charities, but his team got the ball back after Rubite was forced to a backing violation with 14.2 seconds left.

Patrick Yu appeared to have left the door open for Traill as he missed two crucial free throws, but Pastor grabbed the offensive rebound and made a split of his own to up the lead to two with 10.9 seconds remaining, although the team still had the crack.

Yu, however, made up for the missed freebies by forcing a steal and making the dagger layup with 3.9 seconds left.

Pastor finished with 26 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, and three steals for the Magis Eagles, who opted to give Josh Sinclair a rest although he suited up.

Rubite had 27 points, while former Ateneo Blue Eaglet Bobby Joson added 20 for the Dragons.

In the first Division 2 action of the national finals, Maryhill outgunned Agusan High, 59-40, behind a stifling defense in the third quarter.

Box Scores:

Second Game
Maryhill 59-Burilla 18, Palulay 14, Yacob 8, Aguirre 6, M. Ladines 4, Patuga 3, Ramos 2, R. Ladines 2, Barretto 2, Albos 0, Floranda 0, Morfe 0

Agusan High 40-Plaza 13, Jelianggao 8, Funcion 6, Domingo 4, Malaco 4, Agapay 2, Bayan 2, Odo 1, Tiu 0, Paradiang 0

Quarterscores: 23-7, 28-19, 47-21, 59-40

Third Game
Sacred Heart 76-Pastor 26, Colonia 13, Bersaluna 9, Cutamora 8, Mantua 6, Manaytay 5, Nacua 3, P. Yu 2, Velasco 2, Chua 2, Visser 0, Javelosa 0, Calumpang 0, J. Yu 0

Traill 72-Rubite 27, Joson 20, Yumul 8, Sogbesan 7, Kone 5, Flores 3, Calaguio 2, Jose 0, Thongmanogoon 0, Mansouri 0

Quarterscores: 14-23, 28-41, 52-61, 76-72

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