SAN JUAN City – Letran College guard Mark Cruz completed a day to remember by canning two free throws with less than a second left to lift the West All-Stars over the East All-Stars, 89-88, at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) All-Star Game Friday (August 21) at the San Juan Arena. Earlier in the day, Cruz displayed his shooting accuracy by ruling the Three-Point Shootout.
Trailing by a point, 87-88, Cruz hurriedly fired from halfcourt and then the unthinkable happened. The referees spotted a shooting foul on Kent Salado of Arellano University, with Cruz calmly sinking the first two of his three free throws for the lead and missing the third causing the time to expire.
It was a tough loss for the East, which won last year’s inaugural staging, 104-97. Bernabe Teodoro of Jose Rizal University scored to give the East of Coach Jamike Jarin what seemed to be a secure lead at the 28-second mark, 88-81.
Saint Benilde forward Jonathan Grey then uncorked back-to-back triples to threaten, 87-88, with three ticks to go. The East then committed a major blunder as San Beda’s Art de la Cruz mishandled the inbound pass to set up Cruz’ game winning play.
For topping the West in scoring with 20 points including those two crucial triples, Grey was chosen as the game’s Most Valuable Player. Cruz finished with 10 markers, the same total as Mapua Tech center Allwell Oraeme who also excelled on defense with 11 rebounds.
“This is an All-Star Game but I still ordered the players to apply pressure defense,” said winning Coach Aldin Ayo of league-leading Letran. “I am also thankful that Grey delivered in the final seconds.”
Teodoro paced the East with 17 points, 10 made in the fourth period. Arellano’s Jiovani Jalalon came next with 12 points.
Cruz outgunned Lyceum of the Philippines forward Wilson Baltazar in the Three-Point Shootout Finals, 18-9. Cruz also topped the 10-player preliminary round with a whopping 26 points against the 21 of the second placed Baltazar.
In the Slam Dunk Contest, Lyceum’s Jebb Bulawan copped the title by jumping over teammates Joseph Gabayni and Shaquille Alanes. Saint Benilde reserve player Yankie Haruna, who topped the preliminaries, struggled and failed to complete his dunk and seal the deal for Bulawan who also participated in last year’s contest but missed reaching the finals by a mere point.
Lyra Velchez made it two in a row for the University of Perpetual Help in the Miss NCAA Pageant by edging out First Runner-Up Rycca Timog of Lyceum and Second Runner-Up Zahara Soriano of Arellano University. Velchez was crowned by outgoing Miss NCAA Jia Salazar.
Meanwhile, the Second Round of the basketball tournament will begin on August 25 at the San Juan Arena. Top teams Letran (8-1) and San Beda (7-2) will play cellar-dwellers San Sebastian (2-7) and Emilio Aguinaldo (7-2) respectively.
How They Scored:
WEST (89) – Grey 20, Cruz 10, Oraeme 10, Gabayni 8, Mejos 8, Munsayac 7, Nambatac 6, Alanes 4, Ongteco 4, Baltazar 3, Saavedra 3, Racal 2, Onwubere 2, Serrano 2, Nieles 0.
EAST (88) – Teodoro 17, Jalalon 12, Akhuetie 10, Guinto 10, Ylagan 6, de la Cruz 6, Calisaan 6, Koga 5, Ortuoste 5, Salado 4, Sorela 4, de la Paz 2, Abduwahab 1, Nicholls 0, Dagangon 0.
Period Scores: 19-14, 41-38, 59-63, 89-88.