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Streaking Panthers

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MAYBE it’s the hype. Maybe it’s simply luck. Maybe it’s written in the stars.

No matter what, the Philadelphia High School Panthers have been performing way above expectations in the ongoing Filipino-Chinese Amateur Athletic Federation (FCAAF) high school basketball competitions.

Since dropping a tournament-opening 62-60 decision to Grace Christian College after blowing an 11-point lead in the third quarter, the Panthers have racked up five consecutive victories in the eight-school Group B1 – equaling the 5-0 start of Saint Peter the Apostle School.

The Talayan, Quezon City-based school has already earned a berth in the quarterfinal playoffs (October 8) that also feature the top four squads from Group B2 with still a game remaining in its elimination schedule. It goes up against the SPAS Peterians on Saturday, October 7, at the Saint Stephen’s High School gym.

Philadelphia High School, Saint Peter the Apostle School and Grace Christian College currently own identical 5-1 records although GCC has the advantage in any tiebreaker (winner-over-the-the rule), having defeated the Panthers last September 16 and upset the Peterians, 70-63, last October 1 for the latter’s first setback in six appearances.

Grace Christian College is poised to top Group B1 at 6-1 with only winless Northern Rizal Yorklin School (0-6) to take care off in its elims finale on Saturday.

Philadelphia High School and Saint Peter the Apostle School will battle for the No. 2 spot. The loser of that game will settle for third place due to a tie-breaking advantage.

Record-wise, Makati Gospel Church-New Life Christian Academy can still catch up with the loser of the PHS-SPAS contest at 5-2 with a win against CCF Life Academy on Saturday but the New Lifers cannot rank higher under the winner-over-the-other rule after being beaten by both the Panthers, 44-35, and Peterians, 66-51.

Defense has been a badge of honor for Philadelphia High School in the five-week tournament. In six assignments, the Panthers have been surrendering a measly 48.3 points to the opposition while netting 66.5 ppg themselves every time out.

They have allowed no more than 62 points (vs. Grace Christian) and have limited their foes to as low as 35 (vs. MGC-NLCA).

Philip Jason Midel, a Grade 12 stude, is the leader of the band, pacing PHS in scoring (19.4 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg).

Only one other Panther is norming in double digits – Mark Lenard Tan – at 11.8 ppg. A Larry Fonacier play-alike, Tan, another Grade 12 senior, has produced 16 triples (including games of 6, 5 and 4) in five appearances (missing one due to entrance exams at the University of Santo Tomas).

Other top performers for PHS include Lennard Broy De la Cruz (9.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg and 2.8 spg in four games), Raphael Ivan Goh To Kang (8.2 ppg and 3.3 rpg), Ronnie James Yap (7.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.7 apg and 3.3 spg), Lance Abaja (4.8 ppg and 4.2 rpg), Justin Miguel Liao (3.8 ppg and 2.5 spg) and Nevin Santiago (3.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 3.5 spg).

Rounding out the Panthers’ “Lucky 13” squad are Klein Eric Chua (3.5 in four games), Michael John Burga (1.5 ppg), Kervin Dexter Kho (1.2 ppg) John Miguel Fajota (1.0 ppg in five games), and Curtt Alfred Villarete (0.7 ppg in three games).

The PHS coaching staff is composed of Simon Sim, Angelo So and Dino Lee.

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