By Ian Zane Esparaga | Photojournalist
Vol. XCI No. 5
Aug. 28, 2019
Silliman University’s point guard Denzel Cornelia opened the game with a booming triple and who would have thought that he will also be the one who will end the game? It was the sixth day of the Hibalag celebration and unknown to many a dual meet is happening between Silliman and University of St. La Salle.
Silliman was up 49 to 50 with nine seconds left on the clock and La Salle Stingers has the chance to win the game. The ball was in the hands of La Salle’s wingman Riggy Alinsoring who calls for an isolation play and drives to the basket while the clock was ticking down and was fouled during the position. Going to the line La Salle misses a total of nineteen free-throws, it was a horrible shooting night from the Stingers and their shooting percentage favors Silliman, unfortunately, Alinsoring calmly made the two consecutive free-throws and forced Silliman to call a timeout down by one with two seconds left in the game.
Down by one, the Stallions have the chance to win the game in their home- court. An inbound pass to Larena who was caught by a double team after the defense collapsed on him quickly passed the ball to Cornelia who was left by his defender wide open and made the game-winning three-point shot on the buzzer. The play designed by Stallions coach Jake Villavicencio was executed well by the team. “The decoy was Larena, Cornelia
was our option. That is why the defense break and gone to Larena and then the ball was handover to Cornelia” according to him.
Meanwhile, the game-winning shot was made possible by Cornelia’s sheer guts and confidence to ask for the final play from his coach. “Coach made the play for my teammate JG Larena, he was supposed to take the last shot but I told coach I could take it” Asked about his mindset while taking the shot, he answered “I would really take the last shot, that was my mindset I’m gonna be responsible if the team wins or losses.” The team celebrated the win, Cornelia who runs all over the court was followed by this teammates, joy and happiness outpoured in their faces. It was also the first time Silliman won against La Salle in basketball. “Since Silliman loses always, that was our first time. Six years of dual meet, it was our first time to win against La Salle that’s why we’re really happy,” Villavicencio said.
Cornelia received high praises from Silliman’s athletic head Mr. Dionesio Piñero, in an interview he said, “The game was so crucial almost at the end of the quarter because La Salle was ahead of one point and then here comes one of our player Cornelia who was asking for the play from his coach and you know coaches will always think twice. Can this player really deliver the goods for the team but he was very positive that he can deliver and he was asking much about the play and wanted to end the game so the game was given to him and then luckily he made a three-point shot during the end of the game. It was a buzzer-beater shot and it was very close.” For Cornelia’s part, it was a dream come true. “It was like I was already there many times. I visualized that moment like shooting the game-winning shot a lot of times since I was a kid. I counted from three, two, one, for the win. I was surprised I wasn’t that nervous. There was nothing in my mind, I’m completely calm. When I take that big shot, I was ready for it.
On the other events, the football match at the Ravello Football Field ended with a 1-1 draw. Ceres backed Stingers scored an early goal in just two minutes after the whistle. In the 34th minute, Silliman’s Henry Piñero scored a goal following a free-kick from his teammate. The match was competitive and physical as the referee was able to hand two yellow cards during the game, one from La Salle and one from Silliman. Back to the gym, the Stingers outplayed the Stallions in women’s volleyball 3 sets to 1. Stallions coach Manolito Gatchalian was satisfied with the performance of the team despite the loss. “We actually had a good game, I guess their team is stronger than ours because we are still starting.” Team captain Razel Mijares also applauded the teams fighting spirit during the game. “Basically every game was nervous for us, there were ups and downs during the game but at least each team competed well and fought back.” she shared.
The dual meet ended at the SU Hall where both teams gathered for a fellowship and a dinner. It was a friendship competition from both universities in Negros. “The dual meet gives both universities to strengthen our relationship every year, sharing our expertise in this one-day sports tournament” according to La Salle athletic head Mr. Christian Fernandez. On the other hand, Dionesio Piñero highlighted the competitive nature of the game. “This is a friendly match and a fellowship game between two universities. Both universities perform at their best even though it is just a friendly match.”