Ilonggo guard Ian Espinosa steers Ateneo to AsiaBasket championship title

Way to go, Ian Espinosa! Congratulations! (Filbasket Facebook page)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Ilonggo point guard Ian Dominic Espinosa just saved the best for last after putting on a show in the championship game of the Bola.TV AsiaBasket Las Piñas tournament last July 30, 2023, held at the Villar Coliseum in Las Piñas City.

The quick floor general was an instant spark for the Tab Baldwin-led Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles and helped them escape the tough challenge from the College of Saint Benilde (CSB) Blazers, 60-57, to bring home the title.

Espinosa skyrocketed his scoring average during their final game and tallied a total of 15 markers including the dagger three-pointer in the final three minutes of the slugfest.

The savvy guard posted his first highlight of the game after scoring an easy layup off an isolation steal with 3:46 remaining in the first frame.

After his first two points, Espinosa made the crowd erupt after burying a wide-open trey from the left elbow while also cashing in a flashy step-back jumper to give the Blue Eagles a 19-14 lead.

Espinosa then just went unconscious in the last stretch before the first-half buzzer sounded after converting a floater shot and another triple.

Among his scoring highlights, perhaps the biggest basket that the Ilonggo buried was the three-pointer in the fourth quarter.

The Blazers were starting to gain momentum and kept the game close but Espinosa’s trey bomb with only 2:23 remaining in the championship game extended Ateneo’s lead to six points, 59-53.

With his breakout performance on AsiaBasket’s biggest stage, Espinosa was named the Finals Best Player of the Game.

“Siguro, d ako nag eexpect no. Pero, cguro we did our best lang kasi kahapon we really practiced on our shooting and execution. So siguro, lumabas lang yung ginawa naming kahapon and na e apply namin sa game,” Espinosa said during his post-game interview.