Palaro champ Joel Cagulangan now wants NCAA title with CSB-LSGH

Palaro champ Cagulangan now wants NCAA title with CSB-LSGH
FLOOR GENERAL. Joel Cagulangan is the foremost reason why CSB-LSGH is still alive and kicking in the NCAA 93 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

Joel Cagulangan has won three games for College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills by his lonesome in the NCAA 93 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

And with a 27-point, six-rebound, and five-assist outing on Friday, he again gave the Junior Blazers their biggest win of the season thus far.

After discarding San Beda High School’s twice-to-beat advantage in their semifinals series, the point guard is not mincing his words about his and his team’s goal. “Siyempre, yung championship kasi history yun sa La Salle e. Yung individual (awards), bonus na lang po yun,” he said.

CSB-LSGH has yet to win a championship in the NCAA and Cagulangan is doing his best to change that.

That is even more true as he has already tasted the sweet taste of victory as a national champion, no less, in the 2013 Palarong Pambansa.

As the shining star of the Northern Mindanao region’s basketball team, the Butuan native showed the way for his team as they toppled the likes of usual favorites National Capital Region and Region IV-A.

And there, he opened the eyes of scouts of the Junior Blazers.

Seeing an opening to showcase his skills on a bigger stage and under brighter lights, he put his head down and pushed forward – much like what he does on the court. “Bata pa po ako nun so ayaw ko sana, pero sabi po ng magulang ko, opportunity ‘to. Kung gusto ko talaga mag-basketball, iba yung nasa Manila,” he recalled.

Once he transferred to Manila, Cagulangan spent his first two years polishing his craft.

When his rookie season finally rolled along, he wasted no time in flashing the form that has made him the all-around dynamo he is today.

And now in his second year, he has only been more impressive – more impressive than when he was a Palaro champion, more impressive than when he was a rookie who took control as CSB-LSGH’s lead guard.

Even with per game counts of 14.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and 2.4 steals in 30.1 minutes, the now 17-year-old is still improving. “He’s just getting better and better. We haven’t seen the best of him yet,” a proud head coach Marvin Bienvenida said of his prized ward.

As they head into a do-or-die matchup with the Red Cubs two weeks from now, Cagulangan is confident about their chances. “May pressure po, siyempre, sa akin, pero sabi ng coaches, laruin ko lang and i-lead ko lang yung team. Marami rin naman kaming ibang player tulad ni [Inand] Fornilos,” he said.

He then continued, “Tulong-tulong lang kami rito.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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