The 2nd Season of the Inter-Steel Detailing Company Basketball League: Surprise, Uprise, & Triumph

`

By: John Mark Herrera - Published August 2017

In a season where doubters were proven wrong and predictions being shattered by shocking uprises, it's safe to say that the level of competition has upped from where it all began, back in the inaugural season.

Looking back, this was a season that no one could have predicted the way it would end. With teams like PDC and Drawsteel going undefeated in the early going of the season, to CSF and S2D2+ coming out of nowhere to surprise spectators with an uprise that took the league by storm.

League-newbies got baptismal of fire as Steel Pencil and Revision Zero took the ISDC stage and showed relentless grit in trying to slay the giants of the league. Struggled all through out with another rough campaign, but the league's underdogs showed gallant stands in some impressive outings, including a 63-60 loss from PDC, a game where DOWCO controlled the tempo but just came up short of an upset, but nonetheless proved that they can go toe-to-toe with the best.

From team uprises, to players taking their game to a whole new level, this season had numerous notable individual performances that went on to the record books.

One of the most exciting players to watch and arguably the best perimeter defender in the league, Mon Elarde of Drawsteel embraced the leader's role and carried his team to their best start by winning four straight games to begin the season. Elarde went on to lead the league in scoring, steals per game and finished in the top five of three other categories in the league leader's list, leading him to winning the Most Valuable Player of the season and the Defensive Player of the year award to cap off an amazing season.


Not far behind are three other players who carved their name in the mythical selection, namely: Vergian Pagcaliwangan, Danly Gacho, and Christian Quintal who lifted their team by displaying all-around performances and showing angst in crunch-time with clutch plays and dagger hits.

"VJ" Pagcaliwangan played through all the adversities, injuries and shrugged off criticisms, to book multiple 40-point games and even dropped 53 for S2D2+ at one point. Danly Gacho, on the other hand, is a do-it-all combo guard who thrives in physical games, a reliable scorer in the clutch, and a well-rounded leader for CSF. Christian Quintal, the first MVP of the league, continued to struck damage on every opponent that crossed his path. Even with a depleted lineup, Christian was able to lift his team to the top of the league and did enough to retain his image, as one of the league's scariest sight on both ends.


All this talk of scoring, might have given you the impression that it was a tourney that was dominated by offensive prowess; but a list of the league's "top-dogs" on defense were filled by players that thrived on an end, where physicality and relentlessness is at its best. 

Paul Lim headlines the list of pesky defenders and intimidating force on the boards. S2D2+'s man in the middle collected double-double performances in all of the games he played this season. CSF's Gilan Delos Santos had the same grit and heft that enabled him to take so much space in the painted area, and grab rebounds with over-powering strength. Another relentless rebounder is Nathan Sildo of Drawsteel, who surprised opposing teams with his ability to jump over defenders and snatch rebounds from taller players.

All these players had one thing in common, which is an All-Defensive team selection. But one last player made the list with his impressive game impacting PDC's run and filling a void that was left by their injured big man; that player, is Edwin David. He may have not made the selection, but he deserves a recognition for his timely contributions that helped his team stay on top of the league.

All these players made an impact for their team's campaign and their individual triumph helped in brewing the thrilling playoff matchups.

The semifinals featured the matchup of S2D2+ and PDC, with the defending champions, raring to get payback against the team who handed them their first ever loss in the eliminations. The series became everything that the fans never thought it would be, as Pagcaliwangan single-handedly demolished the opposition, by scoring 41 in game one and detonating for 53 in game two, to sweep their way in dethroning PDC and book their first finals appearance.

The surprising turn of events was reciprocated in the battle of the top and fourth seed in the semis, as CSF continued its mastery of Drawsteel, by completing a series sweep to upset the heavily-favored team and advance to their first ever finals appearance. Gilan Delos Santos' late game heroics in game two, lifted his squad over the league MVP Mon Elarde, marking a remarkable upset.

With two teams eliminating heavily-favored foes, the season that was full of surprises had one last series to conclude this astounding year.

As expected, CSF and S2D2+ took the finals' stage and dragged the series matchup to three pulsating games. Pagcaliwangan continued to wreak havoc and showed no signs of finals' jitters, with a clutch go-ahead basket in the dying seconds of the fourth, that sealed game one for his team. Not to be outdone, Danly Gacho was more than ready to take the big shots and did not disappoint by catching fire in the final minutes of game two and lead his team to force a rubber-match.

It all came down to a final game. A winner-take-all game three that had S2D2+ survive a huge CSF first half surge and a grueling fourth quarter finish, to claim the 2017 ISDC Championship in their very first season.

A great season came to an end with a picture of a newly-crowned champion raising the ISDC trophy. It marked the historic end of a grueling finals that exceeded expectations, was full of surprises, and brought a different level of play; a fantastic way to end a storied second season.

To be the Champion, you have to beat the champion. A cliché that S2D2+ took by heart and accomplished on the hardcourt, by defeating PDC and outlasting the great challenge from CSF.

As the clock went on triple-zero and S2D2+ jumped in excitement and shared hugs all around, while CSF watched in disappointment and shed tears after a finals' defeat, I can't help but think of how this series embodied the story of the season. Surprise in unbelievable comebacks and bounce backs from deficits; Uprise in the face of doubt, criticism and adversities; and Triumph and the end of the journey, that was fueled by the will to win.