And a hero shall answer the call.
Gil Marte scored only five points but converted the crucial triple which proved to be the marginal points to lead the St. Clare Saints to a 70-66 triumph over the Philippine Merchant Marine School Mariners.
The Saints thus annexed the men’s basketball crown of the 21st National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) at the Makati Coliseum.
With just 12.5 seconds to go in the game Marte, who was not supposed to take the shot in the play drawn up by their coach, was presented the opportunity and did not back down as his trey shattered a 66-all deadlock and helped the Saints sweep their best-of-three showdown with the Mariners.
Eric Acuna split his free throw in the last 4.7 seconds to finalize the count for the Saints.
The Saints’ won the crown right in their first year of participation in the cagefest supported by Mikasa and Molten Balls.
The Saints took Game 1 with a 70-53 thrashing of the Mariners but found the going rougher in Game 2.
Jayson Ibay, who was hailed as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, led the Saints with 24 points.
Ibay was supposed to go for a drive after the Mariners forced a 66-all tie behind Dan Reverente’s basket. But his teammate John Acebron could not find Ibay who was covered by the Mariners’ interior defense. Acebron opted to pass the ball to Marte instead.
“Sobrang hirap. Ganoon talaga. Undefeated kami going into Game 2. Medyo na-pressure iyung mga players ko, hanggang fourth quarter. Pero last four minutes, doon kami nag-stepup. Kaya nakuha namin iyung lamang,” said Saints’ coach Jinino Manansala, a former varsity standout of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers.
The Saints finished the season undefeated after 14 games after also sweeping their 12-game elimination-round assignments.