By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Jaro Titans proved that they are the team to beat in the ongoing JB Amateur Basketball League (JB ABL) Battle of the Seven Districts conference.
Going up against their fellow undefeated district Lapuz Batang Pier in the last game of the preliminary round, Jaro displayed their stacked roster and firepower and won the most highly-anticipated duel, 100-85, last October 15, 2023, held at the WIT extension Gym, Iloilo City.
With the huge victory, the Titans finished the whole elimination round without a single defeat and earned an automatic spot in the grand finals.
Both districts entered the showdown with an identical perfect record of 5-0 and the hype that surrounded the clash resulted in a record-breaking crowd with an estimate of 2,500 basketball enthusiasts attending the Jaro-Lapuz matchup.
It was what the fans expected as Jaro and Lapuz figured in a tightly-contested affair in the first half with the Titans carrying a two-point lead heading into the last two quarters.
Despite the fiery offensive run displayed by Jaro, Lapuz’s hard work and team chemistry helped keep them within striking distance.
The Kevin Barranco-Tyrome Borja head-to-head duel lived up to the hype as both main gunners showed their scoring bag and dueled in the first two quarters.
However, it was energetic guard Clint Mesias who stole the show and lifted the Titans to a double-digit lead in the third quarter.
Mesias was just unstoppable once he drove hard down the lane, punishing every Lapuz defender that stood his way in the paint.
After the Mesias scoring avalanche, the whole Titans’ roster just clicked and shot the lights out at the start of the fourth.
Lapuz tried their all to trim their deficit to single digits in the last five minutes of the ball game with their three-point shooting but Jaro’s talented team was just too much to handle.
The Titans will be advancing to the championship game while the Batang Pier will undergo a grueling playoff series in the semifinal round.