A grieving Joel Cagulangan scored his second highest output this season of 36 points for the defending champion La Salle Greenhills Greenies as they outplayed the Jose Rizal University Light Bombers in the fourth period, 86-71, yesterday at the Arena in San Juan.
The 5’8” Cagulangan, dedicating his game to an uncle who died last Saturday in his home province of Butuan, made 17 points in the final period as the Greenies went on to earn their 15th win in 17 games in the 94th National Collegiate Athletic Association junior basketball tournament.
Cagulangan, last season’s finals MVP, previously had an explosive performance of a season record 8 points when they defeated the Arellano Braves, 91-77, last month.
“He is undergoing something difficult. His close uncle passed away. At first, we were hesitant to let him play, to give him time to recover. But Mai (Cagulangan), he’s a young professional. He did his responsibility,” said Greenies coach Marvin Bienvenida.
The Greenies, getting 15 and 12 points from Joshua David and RC Calimag, stretched their winning streak to five and secured the no. 1 seeding in the Final Four semifinals.
Thomas Vasquez tallied a game-high 16 points for the Light Bombers, who took the no. 4 seeding with their 11-7 slate.
But Vasquez was scoreless in the fourth period as the Greenies big men, Inand Fornilos and Mark Sangco took control of the boards, and forced the Light Bombers to numerous turnovers.
The Greenies held JRU to 11 points in the last 10 minutes, and they refused to let the Light Bombers score halfway in the fourh quarter.
“Sabi ni coach, ilaro ko ito para sa tito ko,” said Cagulangan, referring to his uncle, George Lim, who had a cardiac arrest.
Later, the Mapua Red Robins, drawing 21 points from Dan Arches, held off the Arellano Braves, 86-76, to clinch the no. 2 seeding at 14-4 and deny the San Beda Red Cubs (11-5) a chance to catch up and challenge their position.