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Henry Liao

PCYAA Basketball: Clash of the Titans

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PCYAA Juniors Division (High School) Standings – Saint Jude Catholic School (4-0), Philippine Cultural College (4-0), Pace Academy (2-2), Makati Gospel Church-New Life Christian Academy (2-2), Uno High School (2-2), Grace Christian College (2-2), Jubilee Christian Academy (0-4) and Saint Peter the Apostle School (0-4)
There are only two unbeaten teams in the Juniors (High School) Division of the 3rd Philippine Ching Yuen Athletic Association (PCYAA) basketball tournament held at the Uno High School gym in Tondo, Manila.

And when an immovable object meets an irresistible force, something is bound to implode. This is the scenario that awaits defending titlist Saint Jude Catholic School and host Philippine Cultural College when the unblemished teams collide on Saturday, January 30, in their own version of the “Clash of the Titan” or “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.”

The description aptly applies as the colossal shootout will be held just 30 minutes after high noon.
Both schools sport an impeccable 4-0 win-loss record and, more importantly, the No. 1 seed in the eight-school, seven-week competitions is at stake.

The top two teams after the single-round elimination phase will enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage in the eight-team quarterfinal playoffs and even through the semifinals assuming both advance that far.

After four games, the reigning champion Judenites have beaten 2014 titleholder Uno High School, 65-56; Grace Christian College, 79-37; Makati Gospel Church-New Life Christian Academy, 58-39; and Pace Academy, 62-50.

The Seagulls, on the other hand, have claimed the scalp of Grace Christian College, 60-40; Pace Academy, 66-58; Uno High School, 58-55; and MGC-NLCA, 57-55.

Note that victories by both teams have come against common opponents.

A suffocating full-court pressure defense has been Saint Jude’s passport to perfection so far. What’s amazing is that coach Luis Nolasco’s well-conditioned troops have been able to sustain it from start to finish, forcing its foes to hoist bad shots under time constraints while also creating for itself an avalanche of fastbreak points off turnovers.

SJCS’ share-the-wealth offense has been effective as well as four players are norming at least nine points per game. They are Maynard Nielsen Yap (11.7 ppg, he missed his team’s season opener), Lance Graeham Chan (10., Jared Christian Filipino (9. and tree-like Kendrick Ong (9.0), who also is averaging a team-best 10.8 rebounds along with 1.0 blocks every time out.

A multi-faceted frontliner, the left-handed Yap has per-game clips of 6.0 boards, 3.33 steals and 1.7 assists as well.

Heady Judenites guard Matthew Ang (6.8 ppg) has yet to heat up offensively, 14-year-old Mallechi Colby Lim is a threat from long range and Charles Janzen Sy (2.5 ppg) is a hard worker off the glass (6.3 rpg).

A concern for Saint Jude is the health of Ong, who sustained a right shoulder injury Sunday against Pace Academy early in the third quarter and stayed on the bench the rest of the way.

For Cultural, the meal tickets will have to come from veteran frontliners Kimson Chen and Daniel Manalang.
Chen is one of only two players averaging a double-double (the other being Jubilee Christian Academy’s Lanz Kendrick Tan, who owns norms of 11.5 ppg and a league-best 16.5 rpg). He is netting 12.5 scores and 12.3 reebies along with 2.75 steals and 1.75 blocks.

Manalang, a 6-2 center with a long wingspan, owns averages of 7.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 2.75 bpg. He, too, is capable of making a triple.

The Seagulls can also count on heady guard Michael Manansala (8.3 ppg), John Patrick Garcia (8.0), bulky John Mark Santos (6.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and a pair of three-point shooters who can explode any time in Jharles Uy (4.0) and Lian Dy (4.0).

No matter which team emerges victorious, the Saint Jude-Cultural encounter is expected to feature some pendulum-like spurts, offensive gems and breath-taking defensive tenacity.

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