PARANAQUE CITY – AMA University welcomed back Andre Paras after a five-game absence to overpower Emilio Aguinaldo College-Cavite, 105-62, to formally close the elimination round of the 25th Sta. Lucia Land National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) at the A. R. Valdez Hall of PATTS College of Aeronautics Friday. The Titans reclaimed the top seeding in Group B by matching the 6-1 record of Philippine Merchant Marine School, the same team they defeated on opening day, 93-61.
Paras was still not a 100-percent healed from his injuries but his presence inspired his teammates while he maintained a tough defensive presence against the Vanguard. For a moment, the Vanguard used a quick start to surprise the Titans but the latter regrouped and suddenly jumped ahead after the first period, 31-26.
The floodgates finally burst open as AMA used a 13-0 run to charge further ahead, 45-28. The Vanguard thus joined Asian Institute of Maritime Studies from Group A as the only winless sides in the 16-school field.
Daniel Salonga came off the bench to pour in 27 points on 10 of 16 shooting to with five steals in 26 minutes of play. Owen Graham also had a superlative performance of 22 points and 18 rebounds while Airness Alao sank five triples en route to 19 points.
Vincent Gabriana returned from a one-game suspension to pace the Vanguard with 17 points and six rebounds. He was supported by JJ Dultra and Christian Ebdani with 11 markers each.
Top two seeds AMA and PMMS while now go straight to the quarterfinals while the Group B Wild Card round will see PATTS play University of Makati and De La Salle University-Dasmarinas tangle anew with Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa. Olivarez College and Saint Francis of Assisi earlier earned quarterfinal spots from Group A while their Wild Card games are De Ocampo Memorial College versus University of Luzon and Technological Institute of the Philippines against New Era University.
The Wild Card round will be played this Tuesday (February 27) at PATTS. The winners will then advance to the quarterfinals on March 2 (Friday) at Olivarez College.
How They Scored:
AMA (105) – Salonga 27, Graham 22, Alao 19, Bragais 15, Paras 11, Garcia 11, Castro 0, Quijano 0, Pippin 0, Barde 0.
EAC-CAVITE (62) – Gabriana 17, Dultra 11, Ebdani 11, Yumul 9, Beduria 7, Agillon 2, Justan 2, Aguinaldo 2, Urbina 1, Dizon 0, Garodes 0.
Period Scores: 31-26, 62-37, 91-52, 105-62.