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BULLDOGS BEAT DOLPHINS IN FINALS REMATCH

In a game begging for ball control, the Okkodo Bulldogs made the right plays down the stretch to hold off the visiting Southern Dolphins 56-51 in the rematch of the girls basketball finals.

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By Robert Balajadia

In a game begging for ball control, the Okkodo Bulldogs made the right plays down the stretch to hold off the visiting Southern Dolphins 56-51 in the rematch of the girls basketball finals.

Leading the way for Okkodo was guard Shania Bulala with 21 points, 11 of them coming in the 3rd quarter where the Bulldogs clawed their way back from a seven-point deficit to steal the lead heading into the final period 41-38.

“I like how we were able to force the Dolphins into bad turnovers at the end of the game,” said Bulala on her teams closing defensive performance. “I’m proud of my team for stepping up to the plate when it mattered most.”

Turnovers were a glaring issue for both teams all game long. It came down to execution at the end, and the Bulldogs managed to bottle the lead with a cleaner approach. The problem that Okkodo had was trying to figure out the Dolphin offense, which is centered around one of the best bigs in the league in center Marlissa Tenorio.

“Usually we play from inside out. We do that because not many teams we play have a big that is a factor. This team we had to adjust our strategy because their best player is on the inside. Tonight, we had to try and open up the floor with jump shots to be able to get layups,” added Bulala.

Tenorio had a strong game scoring 16 points to lead the Dolphins, who struggled to find a steady ball handler playing without star guard April ‘Speedy’ Talledo for the first time in four years. Even so, the gritty Dolphins held a 31-26 lead early in the 3rd before Bulala’s scoring stint gave the Bulldogs a positive swing.

Bulldog forward Caren Mesias finished with 10 points, scoring each of her five buckets in timely fashion. Mesias had a clutch bucket in the 4th quarter off a turnover to give her Bulldogs a definitive 51-45 lead with three minutes left to go.

“We know [Marlissa] is bigger than all of our girls so we did a lot of ball denial into the post. We did alright tonight, but of course we’re capable of playing a lot better. We know turnovers are an issue for us,” said the forward Mesias on her teams performance.

Wendy's Players of the Game, Caren Mesias (left) and Shania Bulala (right) of the Lady Bulldogs.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Wendy’s Players of the Game, Caren Mesias (left) and Shania Bulala (right) of the Lady Bulldogs. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Gameflow

The first bucket of the game was scored by Tenorio, which set the tone for the Dolphin offense. Okkodo stuck with their rim attack despite the size advantage of the Dolphins, scoring all of their 14 points inside the paint to maintain a 14-8 lead. Mesias and Nica Mojas had four points each for Okkodo while the Dolphins Tenorio had six.

Okkodo then jumped out to their largest lead 22-10 in the 2nd quarter after a bucket from freshman standout Zaria Garrido. Southern then applied their full-court defense which forced turnover after turnover for the Bulldogs. Dolphin Kim Malalis and Tenorio combined for 13 points in the period to close the quarter on a 14-2 run to tie the game at 24 by halftime.

Southern jumped out to take a lead in the 3rd quarter 31-24 after a layup by Nadine Calceta. Okkodo then turned up their defense to a full-court press which allowed Bulala to score off four straight Dolphin turnovers to take an eventual 34-33 lead.

Okkodo’s balanced scoring in the 4th from the field and the free throw line were enough to put the Dolphins away. Malalis and Tenorio each hit a pair of free throws in the final minute to get within 53-51, but the Bulldogs played keep away with Bulala handling the ball to secure the win at the free throw line.

“We needed to relax. Coach always tells us that when we are playing with the lead not to throw the game away. We always notice that at the end of the game we always have a bunch of turnovers, but we need to get that fixed. We’re going to work on what we need to work on,” said Bulala.

The unbeaten Bulldogs will next face the also unbeaten home-team Academy Cougars Friday night.

Other Scores

Academy 46, Tiyan 16 – (AOLG) Meaghan Cruz 10 points, (TH) Y’lisiah Jorda 8 points

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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Nadine Calceta is left wide open as she lines up her shot for two. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Alyssandra Cruz puts the pressure on Isla Quinata as she goes up for a shot.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Alyssandra Cruz puts the pressure on Isla Quinata as she goes up for a shot. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kimberly Malalis of the Dolphins forces her way through Shania Bulala and other Bulldogs.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kimberly Malalis of the Dolphins forces her way through Shania Bulala and other Bulldogs. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Shania Bulala charges her way down the court and straight to the hoop.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Shania Bulala charges her way down the court and straight to the hoop. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Caren Mesias goes for a pass to an open teammate outside the arc.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Caren Mesias goes for a pass to an open teammate outside the arc. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Danielle Robles of the Bulldogs sneaks up behind Rena Campo for a steal.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Danielle Robles of the Bulldogs sneaks up behind Rena Campo for a steal. (photo by Daniel Paran)

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DID U KNOW?

After winning the title with ND in 2019, Tiyan Titan head coach Conrad Kerber has the Lady Titans sitting at 2nd place in the league with one week left in the season, the highest placement the Titans have ever been.

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