Integrated Marketing Communications sophomore Xer Villanueva set a new President’s Cup scoring record of 63 points, as Project X survived a torrid shootout with erstwhile defending champion Hoops.
After four quarters, Project X escaped by the slimmest of margins, 91-90. They now march on to the championship game against an equally hungry Team Mode, which defeated Birds in its own semis, 71-61.
Geo Lapuz (4th Year Management) contributed 12 points while Troy Bautista (2nd Year Integrated Marketing Communications) chipped in 11. So impressive was Villanueva’s performance that his baskets came from a wide arsenal of tear-drops, jump shots, and strong penetrations amidst a phalanx of defenders.
Not to be outdone, the super-duo of Joseph Trajano (2nd Year Business Administration) and Mac Valdez (2nd Year Human Capital Development) likewise spearheaded the attack for Hoops. Trajano notched a team-high 37 markers and Valdez 18, though only 6 came in the second half.
The game was very close throughout, which was 46-all during halftime and 67-66 at the end of the third, with Project X up.
With the Hoops starters resting at the start of the fourth, Project X slowly tried to pull away. From a close 5-point lead, 73-68, with 8 minutes remaining, they were able to build up a more comfortable 9-point lead, 79-70, with 6:30 minutes to go. However, four straight points by Trajano, a trey by Valdez and an acrobatic layup by guard Mark Figueras (Integrated Marketing Communications 2nd year) made it 85-85, with only 2 minutes left.
Another turnover by Project X also sent Valdez to the free throw stripe. But the usually reliable veteran was only able to split his charities. More importantly, Hoops reclaimed the lead, 86-85, 1:30 minutes to go. Then an exchange of Villanueva’s three ball and Trajano’s two brought in another deadlock at 88. A post move by Joseph Cua (Economics 2nd year) once again gave Hoops the upper hand, 90 88, with 32 seconds to go.
On the return play, Project X called for an isolation for Villanueva from the top of the key. He then drives hard towards the basket, got the contact, and converted, for another three-point play opportunity. He sank the bonus shot, 91-90.
Hoops still had its chances to win the game, but Trajano muffed a couple of shots off a broken play towards the end of the game, until the time expired and the final buzzer sounded, to the delight of Project X squad.
The stage has thus been set for the showdown between Project X and Mode. Game schedule is 7:10 pm on Saturday, March 16, after the Division 1 finals between Team UYYY and Valle Sixers.