DILIMAN College is one win away from winning another title -- the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL).
The Dragons displayed the heart of a champion when they needed it most to bring down Olivarez College, 80-71, in Game 1 of their scheduled best-of-three title series at the Olivarez gym in Parañaque.
Import Kevine Gandjeto and John Mahari provided the spark for the Blue Dragons, who fell behind for three quarters but outscored the Sea Lions, 39-23, in the payoff period to escape with the win.
Gandjeto, a prized find from Cotonou, Benin, finished with another double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Mahari added 20 points for the Quezon City-based team, which beat the Sea Lions for the third time this conference.
The Blue Dragons of Diliman College president and former Sen. Nikki Coseteng and coach Rensy Bajar can wrap up another major title with another victory on Thursday.
“We hope we can sustain our winning ways and clinch the championship on Thursday,” said Bajar, who is credited for turning Diliman as one of the most-successful collegiate teams in recent years.
“As I expected, Olivarez is a tough team. We really had a difficult time matching up against them. But the boys did not give up and continue to work on our game. Fortunately, our defense clicked in the fourth period,” added Bajar, also the first assistant coach of Pido Jarencio in the NorthPort Batang Pier in the PBA.
Olivarez, which earned the right to meet Diliman by eliminating last year’s champion Centro Escolar University, took control for three quarters.
But they had no answer to the Dragons in the fourth period.
Bajar, the coaching staff and the players shared the success to the team’s biggest supporters, Sen. Coseteng and Jerome Ngo and Wilson Sia of Gerry’s Grill, for their continued trust and confidence.
Diliman (80)-- Gandjeto 21, Mahari 20, Coquia 10, Enriquez 9, Darang 6, J. Salazar 5, Lisika 4, Bauzon 0, Sombero 0, E. Salazar 0.
Olivarez (71) -- Saguiguit 22, Castro 13, Almajeda 13, Lalata 9, Uduba 6, Elie 6, Geronimo 2, Complete 0, Begaso 0, Siegue 0, Santos 0, Sala 0.
Quarterscores: 12-15, 23-33, 41-48; 80-71.