Royal Star Trading clinches Dinagyang Basketball Cup crown

Congratulations, Royal Star Trading! (Leobert Julian A. de la Peña)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

After a week of high-level basketball action in the City of Love, the visiting hoops squad from Negros, Royal Star Trading, emerged victorious and were hailed as the kings of the 2023 Dinagyang Cup Basketball tourney.

The star-studded selection of team Royal Star dethroned the reigning and defending Mayor Jerry P. Treñas New Normal Basketball tournament champions team Uniwheels, 73-68, during the knockout title match last January 21, 2023, held at the Iloilo Sports Complex covered basketball gym.

Shades of the 2019 Dinagyang Basketball championship were all over the venue as the atmosphere was filled with electric energy and support from both Iloilo and Negros.

It was the boys from Negros who jumped to an early lead after their coordinated offensive schemes immediately clicked which forced Uniwheels to several defensive adjustments.

Just when team Royal Star thought they could control the first half, team Uniwheels responded with a huge run courtesy of their efficient perimeter shooting while fishing fouls in their drive attempts.

Uniwheels’ Omar Larupay and Edward Dixon were able to match the paint presence of former PBA star Mark Yee and MPBL veteran Allan Santos.

The guard matchup was also a close one as Royal Star’s rotation of Janjan Pastias, Mon Lustria, and Renz Solomon fought fire against fire with Uniwheels’ Miguel Sasuman, Kevin Barranco, and Jesan Dela Cruz.

Uniwheels retook momentum in the third quarter when they snatched the lead away from Royal Star but former PBA 3×3 player and MPBL star Jhan Nermal carried Negros in the most crucial stretch in the final canto.

In an equally matched nip-and-tuck affair and both teams trading baskets, it was Nermal who carried the offensive load for Royal Star in the last five minutes of the game.

The athletic scoring forward went berserk in a momentum-clinching personal offensive run after burying two three-pointers and a shimmy layup that put the crowd on their feet.

Nermal’s clutch performance then served as the icing on the cake for Royal Star. Uniwheels’ Sasuman attempted to rally his squad back after draining a clutch trey but time wasn’t on their side.

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