AFTER the final buzzer sounded and white confetti rained down on the court to the tune of Queen’s “We are the Champions,” BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare coach Stevenson Tiu shed tears of joy as he finally won his and the Saints’ maiden title in the PBA D-League Foundation Cup yesterday.
In a seesaw game befitting a winner-take-all duel, the Saints carved out a breathtaking 63-60 decision over the veteran-laden Skippers to complete a 2-1 win in the best-of-3 duel before a wild and roaring crowd at the Paco Arena in Manila.
Saints’ gunner Jhaps Bautista canned a pressure-packed free throw that pegged the final count, only 1.5 ticks left.
Marinerong Pilipino’s Mark Yee, who also missed on a three-point try in the previous play, threw a desperation heave from halfcourt that was nowhere near the rim that sealed St. Clare’s big title win after losing the series opener.
The Saints came off a gutsy 74-60 triumph in Game 2 last Oct. 9.
Bautista led the Saints with a game-high 18 points, on top of eight rebounds while Hesed Gabo chipped in 12 markers, five boards, and seven assists.
Burly big man Alfred Batino had 11 and seven for BRT Sumisip Basilan-St. Clare.
Tiu’s Che’Lu Bar and Grill squads lost to Zark’s Burger-Lyceum and Go for Gold in the finals of the Aspirant’s Cup and Foundation Cup last year, respectively, with both series decided in rubber matches.
He said he had a different team in the season-ending tourney— a team which did not give up after absorbing a 59-69 loss in Game 1 last Oct. 3 and eventually bagged its first crown.
“Iyon ang wish ko for how many years sa D-League (to be a champion), palagi akong second place. Pero this one, sa tingin ko, the most na matatandaan ko kasi puro bata ang hawak ko. Iyon ang difference. Before, puro veterans ang players ko,” said an ecstatic Tiu.