Double back-to-back championship for DLSZ in the WBL
Contributed by Louie Razon
De La Salle Zobel’s girls juniors and midgets both won their second crowns of the year as they beat their Miriam College counterparts in the Milo-sponsored Women’s Basketball League.
The Junior Lady Archers survived a late charge from their elimination round tormentors but ultimately prevailed, 51-49. A tight first quarter saw Coach Barry Tobias’ charges clamping down on defense as Miriam only managed to score 4 points while DLSZ scored 11 of its own. Executing its press break to perfection, the Junior Lady Archers boosted their lead to 12 at half-time. In the third quarter, Kat Nuñez showed one and all why she is the MVP, scoring on back-to-back threes to build the lead to 18 in the middle of the quarter. Jamie Roxas likewise dominated the middle as the shorter girls from Katipunan were unable to handle the sharp entry passes into the paint.
However, defending champion Miriam College patiently chipped away to cut the gap at the end of the third, 40-28. Both teams conserved their energies for the end game as they traded baskets at the opening of the fourth. Zobel had a fairly comfortable 48-38 lead with 2 minutes to go but Miriam forced several turnovers to cut the lead to five with 32 seconds left. Another Miriam basket cut the lead to three with 20 seconds left. A duty foul sent Kat Nuñez to the line from which she converted one of two to ice the game as Miriam was only able to convert on a last basket as time ran out to set the final score.
Both teams were below full strength. Miriam was missing four players: two were in the Under-17 Philippine team who departed for a tournament during the week and two more were sidelined by poor grades. On the green side, senior Tatj Medina suffered a sprain in a tune-up game with the DLSU Lady Archers, Margaux Nonato had side stitches and Sam Razon was battling a fever. To top it off, DLSZ had played TWO games the previous day in the League of South Manila Schools, wherein they prevailed over big and physical International School Manila by only 5 points in the second game. Fortunately, point guard Nuñez and center Roxas seemed to have plenty of reserve energy as they netted 25 and 18 points, respectively, accounting for 84% of Zobel’s points.
Aside from bagging the Championship and the MVP, the Junior Lady Archers also collected the hardware for Sportsmanship, which the WBL considers its most important award.
In DLSZ’s second game, the midgets completed yet another sweep of their tournament, this time a pasarelle-format. The little girls established a 31-16 lead late in the fourth before relaxing and finally prevailing by five at the end. Marga Jimenez was again named MVP of the WBL, duplicating the feat of Kat Nuñez in sweeping the MVP awards for the year. The future is extremely bright for coach Maan Moreno’s charges. The core are almost all in sixth grade and only point guard, Joie de Luzuriaga is graduating.
In winning the WBL, the Junior Lady Archers dropped a whole new set of opponents: Colegio San Agustin, New Era, Community of Learners, Assumption San Lorenzo and Miriam College. Arguably, this was a tougher field than the WNCAA, since the other elimination round group also had Angelicum College, which only failed to qualify for the playoffs when it inexplicably lost a game by default.
Next up is the LSMS where the Junior Lady Archers already have a 4-0 record and another good chance at a championship.