THEY SUPRISED their opponents and the Thomasian community when they came out as a stronger squad, but this year’s Thomasian Goodwill Games basketball championship was not theirs to win.
This year’s champs, Institute of Physical Education and Athletics (IPEA), handed the Faculty of Arts and Letters (AB) Women’s Basketball Team their 52-59 loss in a do-or-die match held Friday at the Quadricentennial Pavilion.
IPEA first halted AB’s winning streak after giving them a taste of defeat last March 10, 57-47.
Juslyne Eunice Magat handed AB most of its damages after finishing with game-high 25 points.
Determined to extend the finals to a winner-take-all third game, AB’s Alaina Dimdam immediately drilled jumpers and converted charities.
IPEA’s Evina Rea Avelino sank a trey, tying the game at 10 with 1:56 remaining in the first quarter.
But Dimdam answered her opponent’s trey with her own, enabling the girls from Dapitan to edge past IPEA in the first frame with a slim three-point margin, 13-10.
Both teams started sloppy in the second quarter until AB’s Lara Quicho nailed a jumper. AB continued to ride their rhythm as they went on a 10-0 run courtesy of Jonne Senga’s two easy layups, Dimdam’s free throw and Koleen Salita’s basket in the paint.
But turnovers and foul trouble marred AB’s play late in the second frame, enabling IPEA to find their pace through the trey and bonuses of Magat.
AB managed to escape IPEA’s wrath by the end of first half as Salita and Senga added last minute markers for the team, 28-24.
However, luck did not stay on AB’s side as IPEA came back stronger in the second half.
IPEA’s 9-0 blast, mostly coming from Magat, snatched the lead from AB, 38-31.
With Dimdam and Salita missing their baskets in the third quarter, AB’s once impressive offense started to disintegrate, only managing to add six points.
Avelino’s buzzer-beating trey shocked everyone in the court, notching the third quarter win for IPEA, 41-34.
IPEA’s defensive pressure kept AB away from going near the board while Avelino and Villar fueled their team’s offense by knocking down jumpers, 55-38.
AB, fueled by their will to make the Faculty proud, hustled to close the gap until the dying minutes of the game, 49-59. The triumvirate of Dimdam, Quicho, and Salita finally found their rhythm.
Although staging a come-from-behind win seemed impossible, Dimdam exhausted her remaining strength after converting a fastbreak point and a charity.
With 5.8 seconds left in the game, the frustrated Dimdam choked back her tears as she left the court after being fouled out.
IPEA defeated AB, 59-52, and emerged as the victors of this season’s basketball tourney.
Team Captain Rica Young said there was a sliver of a chance for AB to win the Goodwill crown. “Sobrang sakit lang din kasi the fact na kaya namin ‘yung championship pero we failed to do so.”
“’Yung performance namin kahapon, hindi ‘yun ‘yung kami. Alam naming kaya talaga namin pero talagang natalo kami hindi sa skills but dahil sa mas gusto talaga nilang manalo [kaysa] sa’min. Natalo kami ng mental toughness namin,” she added.
Seniors Nikki Lehnert, V Lupeba, and Quicho, one of AB’s star players, played the last game of their collegiate basketball career.
Nevertheless, Young remained hopeful that the team will improve next season. “Next year, since halos kami kami pa din naman, alam ko pong mas lalakas pa kami kasi itutuloy lang po namin ‘yung nahubog naming team chemistry this year.” F GAEA KATREENA C. CABICO