MANILA, Philippines – Martin Sadhwani scored the game-winning lay-up against the Arellano University Junior Chiefs with five seconds to lead the Xavier Golden Stallions to a 66-64 squeaker and into the championship game of the 17-Under Division of the Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitationals IdolKo Philippine Cup.
It was a stunning loss for the Junior Chiefs, who led for 39 minutes and 55 seconds in their semifinals match against Xavier at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in Quezon City last October 1. Arellano led by as much as 14 points and even as Xavier rallied, the Junior Chiefs looked to wrap up the match when they led 64-59 with 1:01 left to play.
However, Xavier displayed its fighting heart when they rallied for the win.
The Golden Stallions’Gabriel Sytin hit two free throws with 47 ticks left to trim the deficit to three, 64-61. The Junior Chiefs Janlourd Nepomuceno missed a jumper but teammate Marc Paul Lopez corralled the offensive rebound. As Lopez went for a putback, he barged into Santiago Alandy-Dy and was whistled for an offensive foul.
In the Golden Stallions’ next possession, Alandy-Dy hit a triple to tie the match at 64-all with 18 seconds left. Arellano had another chance to seize back the lead or go for the win but Adrian Rellama missed an open jumper with 11 seconds left.
Xavier’s Darren Sytin pulled down the defensive rebound and spotted teammate Martin Sadhwani who was unguarded in the Golden Stallions’ side of the court. The graduating forward drove in for a lay-up with five seconds left and was fouled by Arellano’s JC Recto. Sadhwani missed the succeeding free throw but Arellano was unable to recover the loose ball much less attempt a desperation shot.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Junior Chiefs who dominated almost all statistical categories from rebounds, steals, blocks, points in the paint, and second chance points. Xavier one big advantage was its bench where Sytin and Sadhwani came off the bench to score 25 and 17 respectively.
Brian Javier led Arellano with 13 points with Marc Paul Lopez and Christopher John Lopez adding 12 and 11, respectively.
The win propelled Xavier to the finals against top-rated San Beda this at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, October 8, at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center inside the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City. The San Beda team that will be playing in the finals will be taking over from the current Red Cubs Juniors team in NCAA play for next season.
Xavier’s 10-Under team will also be playing in the finals of the 10-Under Division against De La Salle Zobel at 1 p.m.
The Smart Breakdown Basketball Invitations IdolKo Philippine Cup is sponsored by Proline, GotDeals, sulit.ph, Spalding, Honda Greenhills, Compass, Team Rebel Sports, Mared Rubber and DTOP Socks.