Tiong San hailed as JB ABL alumni kings after sweep of Hua Siong

Congratulations, Tiong San Blue Lions! (Leobert Julian A. de la Peña)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Tiong San Blue Lions completed a sweep for the ages after taking down the Hua Siong Red Phoenix in the grand finals of the JB Amateur Basketball League (JB ABL) Season III ‘School Wars’ High School alumni category.

After holding a twice-to-beat advantage heading into the grand finals of the HS alumni, Hua Siong failed to clinch a single game and fought against a more determined Tiong San squad.

The Blue Lions got the better of the Red Phoenix during the do-or-die Game 2 of the finals, 85-77, and became the only team in the entire league to take down the undefeated no.1 seed.

It was an old-fashioned nip-and-tuck affair in the first few sets of their rubber match as Hua Siong took an early lead courtesy of their hot three-point shooting.

Aside from their consistent treys, Hua Siong capitalized on their size advantage and pounded it hard inside the shaded lane.

However, during the third quarter, the Blue Lions countered with their own offensive run after Hua Siong experienced a scoring drought that would keep them scoreless for two minutes.

Tiong San extended their lead to 11, 69-58, and was looking to pull away after a Churchill Cartel clinic but the never-say-die attitude of the Red Phoenix rose to the occasion.

Hua Siong was able to weather the storm and erased their double-digit deficit after a Kevin Otanes personal rally that gave them back the lead, 71-69.

Otanes’ five points in just 20 seconds helped Hua Siong regain momentum after burying a three-pointer from the top of the key while converting on a fast break layup.

To stop the bleeding and restore order, the Blue Lions quickly asked for a timeout and responded quickly with an 11-0 run that became their biggest key in the crucial stretch of the ball game.

Hua Siong then failed to keep themselves within striking distance after the Blue Lions sank their much-needed free throws in the last 50 seconds of the match.

Cartel’s all-around performance including a clutch two-way play in the last five minutes helped him garner the Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.