By Niko Bulaon
The Okkodo Bulldogs celebrated their last home game of the season with their senior night and capped it off with a win against the aggressive Sanchez Sharks, 44-37, at the Okkodo gymnasium.
Going into the third quarter with the score at 25-22, the Sharks looked to take over the game. Sharks Dean Nilo tied the game twice (25-25 and 27-27), edging the Bulldogs with four minutes left in the game. But Bulldogs Jeddou Antonio and Christian Acosta had other plans, putting in back-to-back layups to put the score at 38-30 by the end of the third.
Both the Bulldogs and Sharks began the last quarter with a scoreless four minutes. John Buan started the Sharks’ offense followed by a three-pointer from Ralvin Vitug to cut into Okkodo’s lead, 40-35. But the Bulldogs kept their opponents on their toes, grabbing steals and rebounds to end any chance of a comeback.
With the clock slowly winding down, the Sharks were forced to foul, giving the Bulldogs the easy free throws. With only 10 seconds left, the Sharks put in their last shot from Nilo, but were seven points short of their opponents, giving Okkodo the win.
“I feel great,” said Bulldogs Karl Melencio about his team’s win. “We just stuck to our plan.”
Both teams started the game with a fire of determination and aggressiveness. But the Bulldogs soon found themselves fouling too often, giving Sanchez the free throws. Okkodo still stood ahead of their opponents as Melencio found his rhythm. With the Sharks not far behind the Bulldogs, Melencio put in the second-chance shots, keeping his team ahead of Sanchez. Bulldogs Randall Diego ended the first quarter with a two pointer, building the small lead to 12-7.
Diego started the second quarter with a three-pointer to put the crowd on their feet, but it wasn’t long till the Sharks came charging into the paint to put in consecutive layups, 15-12. Multiple fouls from Sanchez ultimately kept the Bulldogs on top with made free throws, but the Sharks drive forced Okkodo to put them on the foul line too. With the Sharks making in the easy buckets, they cut into their opponents’ score, ending the first half at 25-22.
Melencio led his team with 10 points saying, “Last game, I caused so many turnovers; in the last possession, I had the ball stolen from me. Tonight was the time to redeem myself.”
The Bulldogs now stand at 10-3 and are soon headed into the playoffs to defend their title. Melencio commented, “I think we’ll do great, better than tonight. There are a lot of things we need to work out and we just need to trust each other.”
Melencio led the Bulldogs with 10 points and four rebounds. Antonio added 10 points of his own and five rebounds. Nilo led the Sharks with 11 points, three rebounds, and a steal.
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