PASAY CITY – Defending champion Centro Escolar University steamrolled over season host New Era University, 91-57, to open the 15th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) basketball tournament Friday (September 4) at the Cuneta Astrodome. In the second game, Philippine Christian University squeaked past City University of Pasay, 72-71.
Flashing the deadly form that earned them back to back championships, the Scorpions of Coach Edgar Macaraya started hot by unloading 26 points in the opening period against the 16 of the Hunters. With the starters taking their rest, the CEU substitutes continued the onslaught to pull away further by halftime, 47-30.
Starter Joseph Manlangit finished with 14 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes to earn Player of the Game honors. Jason Opiso typified CEU’s strong bench also with 14 points and 10 rebounds while JK Casino followed with 12 points, all from the three-point arc.
The Scorpions’ advantage managed to balloon past the 40-point barrier several times. Rodrigue Ebondo played only nine minutes but still logged 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hunters did their best effort to minimize the final deficit with team captain Brian Ilarde pumping in 18 points and 10 rebounds. Louis Bondoc was next with 15 markers, eight made in the first period.
While the Scorpions settled the outcome early against the Hunters, it was the other way around as the Dolphins had to wait for the final seconds to formalize their conquest of the Eagles. JB Dangca hit the marginal free throw with 43 seconds left and Dexter Mescallado sealed the victory with a major defensive stop in the final second.
It was a sorry loss for the Eagles, who unloaded 12 unanswered points to tie the game at 71-71 on a Kenneth de Vega free throw at the 57-second mark. Given 14 ticks to salvage the game, Mescallado broke up the Eagles’ final possession by batting the ball out of bounds with less than a second on the clock, forcing the Eagles to throw up of prayer that went nowhere.
The win marked the first win of the Dolphins, who went winless in eight games during their maiden appearance last year. It was a big relief for Coach Loreto Tolentino, the most decorated coach in NAASCU history with five championships at the University of Manila from 2001 to 2005.
Aside from his endgame heroics, Player of the Game Mescallado sizzled in the second period to give PCU the lead for good after a lethargic first period. Yves Sazon paced the Dolphins with 22 points followed by Michael Ayonayon with 18.
Aldrin Telpo was the top scorer for the Eagles with 18 points and eight rebounds. De Vega was next with 17 points and nine rebounds.
Simple rites graced by PBA Commissioner Andres Y. Narvasa III and members of the NAASCU Board led by President Dr. Nilo Rosas of NEU preceded the inaugural doubleheader. The other participating schools this season are Rizal Technological University, Our Lady of Fatima University and Saint Clare College of Caloocan.
Except for the Eagles, the other six schools led by defending champion Saint Clare will field entries in the Juniors Division for players aged 19 years and below. The Women’s Division will feature defending champion CEU battling RTU, Fatima, Saint Clare and new addition NEU.
How They Scored:
CENTRO ESCOLAR (91) – Opiso 14, Manlangit 14, Casino 12, Ebondo 10, Telen 9, Celso 8, Gallemit 7, Aquino 6, Arim 4, Jeruta 3, Aranas 2, Abundo 2, Vargas 0, de Leon 0, Saber 0.
NEW ERA (57) – Ilarde 18, Bondoc 15, Macaranas 11, de la Cruz 7, Cabacungan 4, Absin 2, Magkalas 0, Recetes 0, Bonzagales 0, Bringas 0, Akindele 0,Bebit 0, Asistio 0, Postigo 0.
Period Scores: 26-16, 47-30, 71-41, 91-57.
PHILIPPINE CHRISTIAN (72) – Sazon 22, Ayonayon 18, Mescallado 12, Pallatao 8, Dangca 7, Malto 5, Vasquez 0, Leron 0, Catipay 0.
PASAY (71) – Telpo 18, de Vega 17, Solero 13, Sarmiento 9, Pervera 6, Penaredondo 3, Erice 3, Padilla 2, de la Cruz 0, Cahansa 0, Lizardo 0.
Period Scores: 12-22, 37-27, 55-43, 72-71.