RHEA GULLAS CUP: Naga City outlasts San Fernando in thrilling opener
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Naga Atong Garbo shocked the defending champions, San Fernando Buffalos, 76-73, in an overtime opening match thriller of the Rhea Gullas Cup 1st District of Cebu Inter-City/Municipality Sports Festival 2024 held on Saturday, February 10, at the Enan Chiong Activity Center in Naga City, Cebu.
Naga endured a tooth-and-nail battle until the final buzzer in the overtime that became the highlight of the opening of the Rhea Gullas Cup.
The game saw 11 lead changes and 13 deadlocks.
John Carlo Bastismo finished with a game-high of 22 points, four rebounds, one assist, and one steal for Naga City, while Jowee Canonigo had 11 points, eight boards, seven assists, and one steal.
Mark Andrey Candia added 15 markers, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals for the home team in the opener of the Rhea Gullas Cup.
Four of San Fernando’s players, headed by Vaness Deiparine, tallied double-digit scores, but this wasn’t enough to give their team a win.
Deiparine fired 21 points with four rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Mark Chan had 16 points, seven assists, four steals, and five rebounds, while Alfonso Aurio Jr. and Julliver Ramos chipped in 14 and 11 markers.
Naga City was on the verge of victory after establishing a 10-point lead, 65-55, their biggest with five minutes remaining in the final canto. However, the Buffalos came alive after cutting the lead to just three, 63-66, from their 8-1 scoring blitz with a minute left in their first game in the Rhea Gullas Cup.
Naga City players placed themselves in a dire situation after committing back-to-back turnovers, including Navales’s unforced error during the transition.
With 14.7 seconds left, Chan canned a triple from the top of the key to tie the game at 66-all, forcing the overtime.
Both teams had a back-and-forth showdown in the overtime that resulted in two deadlocks and several lead changes, with Naga City leading by two, 75-73, with less than 30 seconds left in the game courtesy of Navales’ layup.
Navales proceeded to make a crucial defensive stop after blocking Chan’s game-tying layup.
San Fernando had the chance to tie the game, but Randel Jay Mendaros cracked under pressure, missing both his charity shots.
As time winded down, San Fernando desperately forced a foul, sending Canonigo to the free throw line, and went on to split his two attempts to seal the game.
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