[Originally published on June 2020 at bit.ly/bgsportsspecial]

Despite putting up vigorous efforts to give Marlhes a frustrating loss, La Valla bowed down to the undefeated record of their opponent that ended with a 44-45 thriller in the grade 12 MSAL basketball finals last February 14.

Held at the Marist Gymnasium, Marlhes entered the game with a twice-to-beat advantage for having a perfect season.

Lance Formeloza led his team with 14 points with the help of Arjay Velasquez who converted a clutch basket to seal the game, while La Valla’s point guard Pierson Co chipped in 16 points with three 3-pointers.

Both teams showed tight defense and fast break plays to end the first quarter with 10 points each.

Carlos Manucat took over Marlhes with his post moves in the second quarter, ending the first half with a 2-point lead, 16-18.

Marlhes entered the second half strong with a 9-0 blast until Silver Cantorne converted a three 6:35 into the third quarter to give La Valla their first score.

La Valla was outrun by Marlhes, who closed the third with 11 points and a lead of 13, 25-38.
Momentum shifted in favor of La Valla as Ken Yamane committed an unsportsmanlike foul at 8:25 into the fourth. A couple of treys and charities helped La Valla to lessen the lead by 4.

In the last two minutes of the game, Jem Manuel’s triple brought the game to 42-43.

During the crucial seconds of the fourth, and with only four players left for Marlhes due to fouls and injuries, Mark Palencia converted two free throws to give La Valla a 1-point lead.

As the game seemed to end, Velasquez converted a clutch lay-up to seal the game for Marlhes before the final buzzer.

Marlhes team captain Matt Castillo did not see any play since he was recovering from community acquired pneumonia that time. He served as the team’s coach that game.

“Mula first game, binuo na namin chemistry namin. Kahit kulang or pagod kami, we [fought] for that championship. Binuhos namin lahat ng pagod at oras namin to win bago kami grumaduate,” Castillo shared. Vincent Chua and Angelo Alfonso

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