Hua Siong prevails over St. Robert’s to successfully defend ILOPRISAA hoops crown

Congratulations, Hua Siong! (Leobert Julian A. de la Peña)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

They were down, but they were never out.

Champions show their true colors in times of adversity, and the Hua Siong College of Iloilo Red Phoenix high school basketball team just displayed what it meant to be a winner.

Entering the Iloilo Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) high school basketball boys best-of-three championship series with a 0-1 deficit over their nemesis school Saint Robert’s International College of Iloilo, Hua Siong pulled off a gusty reverse sweep to claim this year’s title after a commanding 85-65 victory during the do-or-die Game 3 on March 4, 2024, at the John B. Lacson Maritime University Molo Campus.

It was a tough road to success for the Red Phoenix after dropping their first game in two years in the ILOPRISAA stage.

After suffering a stunning 100-78 loss in Game 1, Hua Siong tightened their screws and executed the much-needed adjustments to take the next two championship games.

Hua Siong replicated its zone defense in Game 3 that slowed down St. Robert’s high-octane offensive gameplay in Game 2.

Aside from giving St. Robert’s different defensive looks, Hua Siong’s improved three-point shooting also propelled them in the last two games.

In Game 3, Hua Siong kicked off their quest for a five-peat with the same level of intensity, deploying an early full-court pressure trap that caused St. Robert’s to commit several turnovers.

Hua Siong quickly opened up a double-digit lead after the first quarter but St. Robert’s was able to keep themselves within striking distance after their three-point shooting connected.

Just when St. Robert’s thought they could maintain their pace from Game 1, the more determined Hua Siong squad countered every run they made and drained several crucial baskets to halt their offensive slump.

Things got worse for St. Robert’s in the third quarter when Hua Siong ballooned their lead to as much as 18 points, led by their superstar floor general Jid Locsin who was solid on both ends of the floor.

It was all Hua Siong in the fourth and final quarter as they capitalized on St. Robert’s cold offensive stretch in the first four minutes.

Backstopping Locsin’s consistent outing in the championship series were Ken Murillo, Amiel Dema-ala, Chris Cabrales, and Wesley Laña.

Mentoring Hua Siong’s championship squad is still head coach Vincent Conlu, their long-time chief tactician who led them to multiple ILOPRISAA titles.