By Ivan Saldajeno
SAN JUAN, MM—AMA withstood a late push by San Beda-Alabang to clinch the championship of the City Hoops U17 division through a 65-60 victory in the final at the Jacinto Tiu Competition Court of Xavier School on Sunday.
The Junior Titans built a 20-point lead in the third quarter, which was enough to keep the Red Cubs at bay despite a fourth quarter blast by the latter.
AMA shut down San Beda-Alabang offensively in the first half, limiting its opponent to only 16 points by halftime before building a 45-25 cushion late in the third quarter.
The Red Cubs started the final frame with six straight points to cut the lead to 14, 47-33, but back-to-back triples from Thirdy Escoto replenished the Junior Titans' 20-point lead, 53-33.
San Beda-Alabang then pulled a furious comeback bid, drawing to within seven, 58-65, with 52 seconds left, but it turned out to be a bit too late.
Escoto, who was named to the Mythical Five, led AMA with 26 points and nine rebounds, while Karl Bautista, who was named the MVP of the U17 Division, added 23 points, three rebounds, one assist, and one steal.
Miggy Samonte, who was also named to the Mythical Team, led San Beda-Alabang with 23 markers.
The U17 Junior Titans' victory made up for their U12 counterparts' loss to the Xavier Golden Stallions in one of the other three knockout championship games scheduled in the final day of the tournament.
Xavier, which went through the stepladder playoff phase, trounced AMA's U12 squad, which like its U17 team entered the final outright, 73-59.
The host school actually took two championships as its U15 squad mauled I-Cure, 94-64, in the final of the said division.
San Sebastian, however, stopped Xavier from going 3-for-3 in the City Hoops Finals after winning, 71-69, in the U13 championship game.
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