TRACE College-Los Baños and San Pablo Colleges overcame their respective opponents to arrange a winner-take-all title showdown in the 7th Laguna Colleges Universities Athletic Association (LACUAA) men’s basketball tournament at Trace College gym.
The Stallions rode on the shooting prowess of Zander Michael Sta Teresa and the inside game of Babacar Dialla to eliminate Westbridge Institute of Technology Inc.-Cabuyao City, 74-54, and book the first finals spot.
Later, the Ravens relied on the explosive performance of Johnsyper Tallod to beat upset- conscious University of Perpetual Help System Dalta-Calamba City, 61-52, and earn the right to meet Trace College in the final.
Trace College (6-0), and San Pablo Colleges (5-1) finished 1-2 after the one-round elimination in this tournament organized by LACUAA, headed by president Arnaldo M. Dilig of San Sebastián College-Recoletos-Canlubang and chairman Leonardo Andres Sr.
Trace College, which is being handled by veteran coach Nomar Isla, is slightly favored to bag the crown vacated by University of San Agustin,which took a leave of absence this season.
The Stallions defeated San Pablo Colleges 66-58, in their first encounter.
Sta Teresa, one of dependable scorers in the league, fired 18 points while Diatta, a 6-6 recruit from Senegal, scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.
King Cyrus Llanes and Aaron Franchesco Carullo added 14 and 11 points for the Stallions, whose campaign are being supported by EVP Jonathan Siytiap and administrative head Lilian Agoncillo.
Jdvin Ramos, Roswell Albert Nebres and Jeffrey Delos Reyes combined for 40 points for the Emperors of coach Eric Canzon and team manager Henry Basilan.
Ramos topscored with 16 points, followed by Nebres with 13 points and Delos Reyes with 11 points.
Tallod, who mocked all defenders thrown against him in the third and last quarter, exploded with a game-high 30 points to lead the coach Francis Natividad- mentored Ravens to victory.
Cabuang and Timbang contributed 10 points apiece for San Pablo Colleges of Dr. Ma. Socorro Eala.
Mark Anthony Lusterio and Mark Ivan Dungo carried the fight with 13 points apiece for the Altas of coach Dennis Lapastora and team director Meyenberg Austria
This year’s LACUAA officials are Dilig (SSC-R), president; Richard Penaranda (San Pedro College of Business Administration)), vice president, Bernard Bergania (Dominican College Santa Rosa); and Isla (Trace), Canzon (Westbridge) and Lloyd Manalo (SPC), board of directors.
The tournament is being officiated by Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) referees.
Trace (74) – Sta Teresa 18, Diatta 16, Llanes 14, Carullo 11, Velarde 5, Nobleza 4, Salcedo 2, Pazziugan 2, Rivas 2, Torsar 0.
Westbridge (54) – Ramos 16, Nebres 13, Delos Reyes 11, Agnazota 6, Barozzo 4, Tanola 2, Reyes 2, Quilantes 0, Lumotod 0.
SPC (61) – Tallod 30, Cabuang 10, Timbang 10, Parabuac 5, Torbeles 3, Djibril 3, Tizon 1, Sape 0, Caminos 0.
UPHSD (52) – Lusterio 13, Dungo 13, Pascual 10, Monsalve 6, Barba 5, Balolong 3, Alconaba 2, Malabanan 0, Arriola 0, Turico 0.
Halftime: 27-20 AA