Nazareth School of NU rookie guard Winderlich Coyoca was initially tasked to make life miserable for De La Salle-Zobel star Aljun Melecio. In the end, the Bullpups rookie hurt the Junior Archers collectively.
With Zobel’s defense focused mainly on slowing down NU’s prized duo of Justine Baltazar and John Lloyd Clemente, the 5-foot-9 Coyoca made the Junior Archers pay dearly behind his surprising offensive explosion in the Bullpups’ impressive 96-75 victory Friday at the Filoil-Flying V Center in San Juan.
After hardly making his presence felt in their previous two matches, averaging just 3.0 points and 1.5 rebounds, Coyoca stole the thunder in their title-clinching victory in Game 3 when he racked up a team-high 20 points, highlighted by half of the Bullpups’ 8 3-point conversions that proved to be a dagger after another into the hearts of the Junior Archers.
Out of the 4 triples that Coyoca drained, his last-gasp heave from the right corner over the outstretched arms of a Junior Archer defender that beat the 2nd-quarter buzzer stretched the Bullpups’ lead to 48-37 at the break and eventually opened the scoring gates in what turned out to be a 31-point explosion in their murderous attack in the 3rd frame.
“Sabi lang sa akin nila coach (Jeff Napa), ‘Do your best.’ Kaya binigay ko talaga ang 100 percent ko,” Coyoca, 16, told FOX Sports while his teammates savored their 3rd title in the last 5 years inside the Bullpups’ dug-out. “Siguro ‘yun na-shoot kong 3 points nung 2nd quarter, ibinigay talaga sa akin ni Lord.”
Napa was pleased to see how Coyoca get his confidence back despite his previous struggles. “Given na ‘yung sobrang eager lang talaga siya nu’ng mga naunang laro. Pero masaya ako kasi nag-deliver siya at pinatunayan niyang deserving siya mapabilang sa team na ‘to.”
Aside from his offensive brilliance, Coyoca also took his turn in stymieing Melecio, the league’s reigning MVP who had 22 points but shot 7-of-23 from the field while accounting for 6 of the Junior Archers’ 14 errors.
“Happy talaga ako na nag-step-up siya (Coyoca),” said Napa before deflecting the credit to the other Bullpups. “Hindi lang rin naman siya ang nag-step-up kung hindi ‘yung buong team talaga. It’s a total team effort.”
Napa also sounded proud how this latest pack of Bullpups collectively play beyond their years despite just having 3 holdovers, including the graduating 6-foot-7 Baltazar, who was named the Finals MVP for his sustained dominant performance.
“Maraming bata sa team na ‘to. Tatlo lang ang naiwan from last year. Kaya ‘yung camaraderie ng team na ‘to ang talagang binuild-up namin,” shared Napa. “I’m very happy na nakagawa sila ng pangalan on their own.” — By Jerome Lagunzad