Long travel in and out of Fairview finally paid dividends for St. Clare with NAASCU title

By Ivan Saldajeno

MAKATI--For a school at the northern side of Metro Manila like St. Clare, the students, especially those who live in the nearby province of Bulacan, have to brave the long ride just to get there.

Jino Manansala, the head coach of the school's basketball team, admitted to Dugout Philippines that it is also the case during its practices.

"Malayo yung pinanggalingan namin--probinsya. Nagtiyatiyaga yung mga bata. Araw-araw bumabiyahe pa-Zabarte," Manansala bared.

St. Clare is situated in Zabarte St. in the northern part of Caloocan, which is part of the Greater Fairview area that actually stretches until San Jose Del Monte, which is part of Bulacan.

Even making things tougher is the fact that St. Clare's hoops squad, known as the Saints, had to travel from North Caloocan to Makati just to play in NAASCU.

On Friday, all the struggles of the players going far north just to go home and even farther south just to play league games finally bore fruit as they claimed the league title after beating Fatima, another team based in the north, at the Makati Coliseum.

[Related Story: St. Clare bags NAASCU title with Game 3 squeaker win against Fatima]

The Saints bounced back from their finals loss last year against the CEU Scorpions, who left NAASCU for the newly-founded UCBL.

"Pinaghirapan namin ito.... Grabe yung pinagdaanan namin. Kaya nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng sumusuporta sa amin," a jubilant Manansala, who was named the Coach of the Year, said after winning the title.

He, however, admitted that he only got a sigh of relief after Joseph Marquez badly misfired a wide-open triple at the final buzzer that could have given Fatima the title.

"Hindi nagbitiw ang Fatima. Hindi sila sumuko hanggang sa huli. Good shot yung tira na yun. Yun nga lang, di pumasok," Manansala evaluated Marquez's potential game-winner.

On the Saints' PCCL preparation, Manansala said, "[After] one-week rest, trabaho uli kami."

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