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Squires back-to-back champions

MANILA, Philippines — Letran’s June Silorio is being advertised as the new “Captain Marbel,” or the second coming of ex-pro star Kenneth Duremdes.

It was evident in a 93-76 victory over the University Perpetual Help Altas yesterday that sealed the Squires’ back-to-back championship in the NCAA junior basketball before a full-house crowd at the Filoil EcoOil Arena.

The proud son of Koronadal City or Marbel where Duremdes also hails from was simply electric as he powered his way to a 27-point, six-assist and five-rebound effort that completed a 2-1 series win and hiked the Squires’ championship total to 14, the league’s third highest behind San Beda’s 23 and Mapua’s 20.

It was also a redemption of sort for Silorio, who could have sealed the deal in Game Two. But he missed two free throws in the dying seconds that allowed the Junior Altas to steal a 91-90 win and force this one last game.

Moses Manalili also came through after a forgettable effort in Game Two as he wound up with 19 points he spiked with six steals and five dimes.

The prolific Cebu City playmaker, who had 35 points in a 97-80 Game One triumph, was named Finals MVP.

Triumphant Letran coach Allen Ricardo thanked their supporters including patrons Frank and Jacob Lao who kept the faith.

“It’s sweet to us kasi wala nage-expect papasok kami sa Final Four, much more sa finals after we lost key players,” said Ricardo, who started out as a volunteer coach during Louie Alas’ time at Letran less than a decade ago.

“I just told the boys to put premium on hard work so that there would be no regrets,” he added.

Daniel Padilla came through with 17 points while George Diamante cut like a diamond and finished with nine points, 11 caroms and eight assists.

But none shone the brighter than Silorio on this particular game.