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BULLDOGS BEAT OUT SHARKS FOR FINAL PLAYOFF SPOT

The Okkodo Bulldogs were well aware that their regular season finale against the Sanchez Sharks Tuesday evening could have been their last IIAAG basketball game of 2018. With both teams entering the night with (8-7) records and only one more playoff spot left in the Taga Division, it was an early playoff taste of ‘win or go home’.

By Robert Balajadia

The Okkodo Bulldogs were well aware that their regular season finale against the Sanchez Sharks Tuesday evening could have been their last IIAAG basketball game of 2018. With both teams entering the night with (8-7) records and only one more playoff spot left in the Taga Division, it was an early playoff taste of ‘win or go home’.

Okkodo weathered the storm and relied on defense in the clutch as they managed to overcome the Sharks crowd, beating out the Sanchez 42-36 to lock up the final spot.

“The team was hella’ pumped for the game today and we just had to perform,” said Manalo on the nerves of the game.

The game came down a nail biting second 4th quarter where the Sharks stormed back from an eight-point deficit to take their first lead as part of an 8-0 run. Guard Nick Foster found a wide open Richard Angeles for and hoop, plus the harm, for a Sharks 31-30 at the 3:53 mark, their first lead since the 2nd quarter.

The lead was short lived as Manalo scored on back-to-back possessions for a 34-31 lead with 1:41 to play. A pair of missed free throws from Foster down 35-33 allowed the Bulldogs to get out on the break where John Michael Lorena hit the Sharks with a nasty euro-step for a lead 37-33.

The Sharks let loose a pair of desperation threes that came up empty and Bulldog Prince Enriquez was perfect from the free-throw line as the Bulldogs came away with the big win.

“Our defense was good, but we have to keep it consistent. When we focus in on it, we look like a really good defensive team,” said Manalo.

“Today was a big game and we came prepared. Winning the game was difficult given the conditions and the opposing crowd came out for the Sharks, but in the end it didn’t affect us,” said Lorena.

The Bulldogs are now set to face the FD Friars as the playoffs begin Friday evening.

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The FD Friars have retired running back Kein Artero’s (#3), becoming the third Friar in three years to have his number retired. 2018 saw two numbers be retired from quarterback Daniel Phillips (#6) and De’Aundre Cruz (#24).

(photo from Kein Artero on Twitter)

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