MUSCAT: Despite all odds stacked against them, Barangay Ginebra Oman (BGO) sponsored by Dominos Pizza and Elevate Personal Fitness overcame a tremendous challenge from Muscat Duty Free to eke out an 85-79 win to
reclaim the 2022-23 OPBL Basketball Championship, Division B, on February 10.
The tournament sponsored by Al Asm New LLC was held at the Oman Club basketball courts in Al Khuwair.
After a tumultuous start, the BGO found themselves in the lower tier third place in the eliminations standing behind the league leading Muscat Duty Free Team and second place Team Wasalak.
The BGO found a resurgence when they were joined by their vital cogs Joshua Alcarde and Shelby Drey Gobris at the right moment going into the eliminations. Their arrival coincided with the playoff energy boost of the team’s core, led by Austin Parole, Mark Anthony Israel, Ronnie Hernando, Garner Lazo and Karl Anthony Lorion. This change coupled with the newfound energy shored up an already formidable bench lineup with Kenneth Katimbang, Jaycer Saldana, Andrew Tibayan, Noel Sarmiento, Benjie Oliveros, Karl Padlan, Josh Ramos, Aaron Barredo, Sonny Boy Pagaling, JR Saliba, EJ Gatbonton, Chester Sacdalan and Dave Fermin became the opposing coaches’ worst nightmare with their depth heading into the semifinals and then the championship round.
From thereon, they took off dispatching Little Manila Shoppe in the step ladder match up. LMS Team was followed by an uphill climb versus Team Wasalak whom BGO needed to defeat twice in a row because of their twice to beat advantage. This made Team Wasalak confident of their odds having also defeated BGO by three points in the elimination round going into their match up. However, they were in for the surprise of their life, as they were flabbergasted as the BGO Team pounced on them from start to finish of game one and made a tight match up into a massacre by blowing out Team Wasalak by a record 37 points 87-50 putting them in a doubtful and precarious situation. With the shoe on the other foot, the BGO team finally dispatched Team Wasalak leaving them trampled in their wake and moving on to the championship final round to face the formidable and undefeated Muscat Duty Free Purushottam Kanji Exchange Team.
As expected, the match up and game one was a classic, between these Titans, MDF was led by their playing coach CJ Macaspac, tournament MVP, MJ Reyes, Joecel Ramos, Jayson Marbibi, Mac Ngo and Marco Vicente against the Magnificent Seven of BGO, Austin Parole, Mark Anthony Israel, Karl Lorion, Ronnie Hernando, Joshua Alcarde, Drey Gobris and Garner Lazo headed by their coach Allan Minoza.
MDF seemingly had the game in the bag with 14 seconds left and the score tied 80 all, the veteran savvy and cunning of the rock solid, Mark Israel made a timely and crucial steal taking the ball away from MJ Reyes and sprinting across the court for the game winning two-point basket. Game point and the first game delivered at the hands of BGO setting the stage for a winner take all deciding do or die one game showdown.
Game two began with MDF again taking an early lead 10-4 until the BGO team got their bearings and bounced back into the game. It was a nip and tuck ball-game going into the fourth and final quarter with the lead exchanging hands with neither team giving an inch.
The last one minute and forty 1:40 seconds of the game proved to be the decider as after the last 3 point shot of Marco Vicente, the BGO team clamped up on defence and shackled the MDF leading scorer and tournament MVP, MJ Reyes, then again; then BGO Strongman, Ronnie Hernando made a basket despite being fouled going for a 3 point play, which pulled the air and the last gasp of MDF Team. Drey Gobris and Joshua Alcarde made free throws to ice the game and deliver the championship to BGO sponsored by Dominos Pizza and Elevate Personal Fitness, final score 85-79.
BGO (Dominos/Elevate) pulled off an almost impossible task by winning 5 five straight games en-route to claiming and regaining its championship pride.
BGO's famed coach Allan Minoza, and assistant coach Joey Ramos, stated that this is a testament to the resilience of the team and the players. "If you dedicate yourself and work hard nothing is impossible and stating finally, that you never underestimate the heart of a champion," Minoza said.
MJ Reyes of Muscat Duty Free was named tournament MVP, while Mark Israel was awarded a Guard Mythical Five Trophy and Karl Lorion was the Best Center Mythical Five.
The tournament was organized by OPBL and Al Asm New LLC with the help of the FMB.