AMS Jaguars qualify to reg’l finals anew

Jaime A. Frias II

MILO Janao Jr. did what was needed of him in the dying seconds as he lifted the Assumption Montessori School in completing a grandslam finish via a breathtaking 83-79 win over Corpus Christi School in the SM NBTC Cagayan de Oro Leg final here on Friday at the XU gym.

Janao pulled 34 points to lead the Jaguars, while John Piniero and Christian Russel Hosain gave 17 and 11 markers, respectively.

The Corpus Christi Knights of coach Carlo dagalea dominated the Jaguars in the first two quarters, leading by as much as 11 points behind the blazing guns of Jovanne Jacutin and Ashton Artazo.

They mellowed a bit but were still up by five, 39-34 at the half.

That was where Janao does best as he put his team back on their legs and had their first taste of the lead after he sank a trey at 3:30 mark in the third quarter.

Corpus took the lead back, 73-67 in the fourth quarter, but Janao closed the gap after igniting a 5-0 run.

Still, the Knights were up at 77-73 when Piniero and Rjone Maybuena scored on their own to force a 77-all deadlock.

Not just that, things started to shift in favor of the Jaguars as the Knights were now in penalty situation at 2:29 minutes of the final quarter.

The Jaguars had the lead back on two freethrows by Janao, but Artazo quickly answered with an acrobatic lay-up that sent the game to another standoff, 79-all and the time down to 34 seconds.

AMS coach James Racines had the final play laid out for Janao in the remaining seconds when he consumed his last time-out.

“I told him that everything is in his hands for the win. If we could not score, things will shift to the Knights,” said Racines.

Janao showed the heart of the champion as he saw a mismatch in his drive up for another lead changing, 81-79 with 26 ticks left.

The Knights had the chance to level it when Chris Emmanuel Ocangas received a pass. But his undergoal stab rimmed out, forcing the Knights to go for a quick foul on John Lloyd Pagara with only 6 seconds remaining.

Pagara cooly sank his two freebies and the Jaguars qualified again to the NBTC regional finals set to start here at same venue on February 16.

Artazo and Jacutin paced Corpus Christi with 25 and 23 markers each.