Romeo Jaraula

Romeo Jaraula fires tournament best 57 points. —PAL PHOTO

MANOLO Fortich, Bukidnon—Starting the second round under a drizzle and with overcast skies hovering all of Friday afternoon, there was still no stopping Del Monte from turning up the heat and seriously start entertaining thoughts of bagging a first-ever Championship division title in the Philippine Airlines Seniors Interclub.

Getting a three-under-par 69 at the rolling, tree-lined Del Monte layout worth 57 points from Romeo Jaraula, the Bukidnon-based bets zoomed to a 14-point lead over Canlubang at the halfway mark that boosted them to 154 points and a 305 aggregate as playing skipper Yoyong Velez admitted to going for the kill in the third 18 on Saturday.

“We will most likely stick with this same team,” Velez told the Inquirer when asked of his third-round lineup, not bothering to keep his cards close to his chest as they hope to open up an insurmountable lead going into the final round at Pueblo de Oro on Sunday.

“We know that there are still 36 holes left to be played, that’s why we can never know,” he said of the decision to play the same group. “This (playing well) is what we really wanted. I am just glad that our players delivered here on our home course.”

Del Monte, a two-time Regular Men’s champion, has never won the centerpiece division of Senior play before, although it did triumph in the Founders class two years ago.

“This is special, because we haven’t won yet,” Velez added.

Defending champion Luisita is another two points behind Canlubang and nonplaying captain Jeric Hechanova admitted that his squad would need to “look for a miracle to happen” in the next two rounds for them to repeat.

“Canlubang and [Luisita] aren’t playing that bad,” Hechanova said in a separate interview. “If you look at our scores, that’s the average two-round scores of champions in the past years. It’s just tough to beat a team playing that way.”

So efficient was Del Monte that, after counting the 49 of Ernisto Apas, either 48 of Billy Adag and Crispin Parilla were thrown out.

“Del Monte is simply exploiting its familiarity with the course,” Hechanova said. “And they are playing really, really well. We are looking for a miracle to happen in the last two days.”

Canlubang was paced by the 52 points of Abe Rosal and the 50 of Abe Avena, but the Sugar Barons, who started the day just six points adrift, still lost a lot of ground even after counting either 46 of JP Reyes or Zaldy Villa for a second round 146 and 291 overall.

Luisita, which came from behind to trim Canlubang in Cebu last year, got 51 points from ex-pro Dan Cruz, 49 from Ronnie Littaua and 45 from Jinggy Tuazon for 145 and 289, a tally that was enough to satisfy Hechanova.

“Our scores are, traditionally, should be leading,” Hechanova, who has seen his share of Interclub battles, said. “One thing is for sure, though, this is good for the tournament, other teams coming up and playing well.”

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Manila Southwoods got 55 points from champion PBA coach Jorge Gallent of San Miguel Beer and 49s from Monet Garcia and Jun Jun Plana to be just another shot behind Luisita.


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