ATENEO de Iloilo (ADI) Grade School Basketball Team got into the championship game last September 24 in the Milo Best Center SBP/Passerelle Provincial Tournament Small Basketeers Philippines (SBP) Division for the 17th consecutive year.
To recall, the Ateneo Grade School SBP Team have been champions for 15 straight years (2001-2015) but gave up the crown last year to Hua Siong College of Iloilo (HSCI).
This year, only three teams participated in the SBP Division, HSCI, ADI-SMCS, and University of San Agustin (USA).
In the first round of eliminations, Ateneo defeated USA, 38-32, on opening day but lost to HSCI, 34-39.
Ateneo swept the second round thru upset wins over USA, 36-33, and HSCI, 24-18, to claim first place after eliminations with a 3-1 win-loss record.
Hua Siong placed second with a 2-2 slate in the standings to set the stage for another ADI-HSCI championship game for the 5th consecutive year. The result was a 51-30 blowout win for the heavily favored Hua Siong squad.
The first quarter of the finals saw an 8-0 start for the Blue Dragons but as the quarter progressed, Hua Siong slowly asserted their height and heft advantage over the pint sized Ateneans to eventually take the lead 10-8 at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter was still close as it ended in a 3 point deficit for the ADI cagers.
In the third quarter, the expected rally of the Blue Dragons never came to fore as the mighty Hua Siong dribblers maintained their composure and managed to increase the lead by 7 points, 26-19.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Hua Siong eclipsed any hopes of a comeback from the Blue Dragons by scoring the first 4 points in the payoff period and extended their lead to 11 points, 30-19. From there, both teams exchanged baskets until in the last four minutes of the game where the defending champions made its last run to put the game out of reach.
It was a gallant stand from the boys of Mandurriao Atria District, but their best was not good enough against the taller and more talented squad of HSCI.
The only consolation for the Ateneo SBP Team this year was that they went home with the most prestigious trophy in the MILO Best Center Tournament, the Sportsmanship Award trophy. A trophy last won in 2008.
Meanwhile, in the High School Passerelle Division, the Ateneo Blue Dragons was awarded earlier the 3rd Place trophy after a “No Show” by University of San Agustin in the battle for 3rd place.
The team ranked No. 2 in group B in the elimination round after winning over Colegio de San Jose and Central Philippine University but lost to Hua Siong College of Iloilo.
Unfortunately, they faced the defending Passerelle Champs St. Roberts International School in the semi-finals. SRIA however, lost to HSCI in the championship. (Jo An A. Tenorio/Herman Lagon)