De Ocampo rallies to stun La Salle Araneta in OT thriller

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--De Ocampo's big men had to deal with a much bigger match-up in La Salle Araneta's Henry Iloka.

The team also had to endure playing the rest of the way with three players out due to fouls or, in the case of Jimmy Schawrtz, an ankle sprain.

However, the Cobras showed why they made the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities men's basketball finals last year.

De Ocampo pulled a huge comeback and shocked La Salle Araneta, 83-81, in an overtime thriller to cap the opening day of the league's 18th season at the Cuneta Astrodome on Tuesday night.

The Cobras came back from 15 points down to turn back the heavily-favored Stallions, featuring Iloka.

La Salle Araneta opened the third quarter with seven straight points to open a 54-39 lead.

However, the team could not pull away further from there as free throw misses and turnovers began to pile up, giving De Ocampo an opportunity to inch closer.

Eventually, the Cobras got the lead, 69-68, on a EJ Canelas lay-in with 4:38 to play in regulation.

Both teams, however, struggled to score from thereon, and they had to play for another five minutes as the regulation ended in a 73-all deadlock.

De Ocampo, opened the overtime period with a 7-0 run in just 47 seconds for an 80-73 cushion.

The team actually kept La Salle Araneta scoreless for nearly four minutes until One Batungbakal fired a triple with 1:16 left that cut the lead down to four, 80-76.

However, that triple sparked the Stallions' last gasp, an 8-3 run that drew them to within two, 81-83, with 3.2 seconds left.

Their pressure defense then forced Angelo Ramos to a bad pass, giving them the ball back with 2.3 seconds to play.

But with no timeout left, Jeff Lorenzo settled for a desperation heave from beyond half-court that went off target.

Dela Cruz, Canelas, and Harold Lescano each made 10 points for De Ocampo, runner-up to St. Clare in last year's finals.

Dela Cruz actually achieved a double-double despite the mismatch against Iloka with 13 rebounds alongside one assist and one block.

Lorenzo finished with 14 markers, four rebounds, four assists, three steals, and one block for La Salle-Araneta.

Iloka grabbed 26 rebounds, five steals, and two blocks in an impressive night defensively on top of 13 points and three assists, but he also committed six turnovers.

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