MANDALUYONG CITY – Rizal Technological University and Centro Escolar University continued their undefeated streaks as the 15th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) resumed play with a doubleheader at the RTU Gym Saturday (September 12). Buoyed by the home fans, the Blue Thunder tamed the Philippine Christian University Dolphins, 89-74, while the Scorpions took down the City University of Pasay Eagles, 70-47.
RTU welcomed back head coach Johnedel Cardel to the bench after a one-game absence and the players responded with a relentless attack anchored on substitute forward Alvin Pronto who was fielded midway in the first period and immediately scattered 14 points. The Blue Thunder actually scored the first 11 points were equally stellar on defense as PCU took almost five minutes to break into the scoring column on two free throws by Dexter Mescallado.
The Dolphins never got to taste the lead as the Blue Thunder successfully repelled their rallies. Sandy Cenal, Ronnie Mayuyo and rookie Mark Maloles all hit timely baskets as RTU completed their second straight win of the season.
Pronto later added four more points to up his total to 18 markers and earn Player of the Game honors. Cenal topped RTU with 21 points.
Yves Sazon recovered from his slow start to lead all scorers with 24 points on three triples. Michael Ayonayon followed with 15 and Brent Pallatao had a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds.
After winning their first two games and assuming the early solo lead, the Dolphins have now lost their last two outings. Last Thursday (September 10), the defending champion CEU Scorpions gave the Dolphins a heartbreaker in overtime, 83-74.
The Scorpions pounced on an undermanned Eagles quintet that continued to miss stalwarts Eric Sarmiento and Kenneth de Vega. While in control for the entire game, CEU could not blow away the gritty Eagles.
Rodrigue Ebondo set the tone early as he powered the Scorpions in taking the first period, 15-4. He later returned at the onset of the third period but was quickly rested by Coach Edgar Macaraya as the Scorpions were all set to coast to their third win in as many starts.
Turnovers greatly affected the Scorpions’ execution as they threw the ball away 24 times compared to the 26 of Pasay. Luckily for CEU, the Eagles failed to translate the turnovers into points as the latter could only produce 10 compared to CEU’s 22.
Joseph Manlangit paced CEU with 12 points on very efficient five of seven shooting for his second Player of the Game award. Ebondo also had 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks in only 11 minutes of action.
The 70-point effort paled in comparison to the 91 and 83 points of the Scorpions in their first two assignments. They shot 24 out of 60 from the field, including three of 14 from three-point distance.
Aldrin Telpo topped the Eagles with 14 points. James Solero followed with 12 points and seven rebounds but their efforts went to naught as CUP absorbed their fourth consecutive defeat.
The Scorpions, Blue Thunder and idle Saint Clare College of Caloocan Saints are the only three undefeated teams to date. The top two teams at the end of the one-round elimination phase will directly advance to the semifinals.
Only the last placer will be eliminated. The third, fourth, fifth and sixth placers will tangle in separate quarterfinal series with the higher seed enjoying the twice-to-beat advantage.
The survivors will then go to their respective best-of-three semifinal series. The 15th NAASCU Finals will a best-of-three affair, expected to conclude by the first week of October.
How They Scored:
RIZAL TECH (89) – Cenal 21, Pronto 18, Maloles 11, Mayuyo 10, Tabi 9, Sarona 8, Santos 4, Senires 2, Estoce 2, Flores 2, Riva 2, Bangeles 0, Collado 0.
PHILIPPINE CHRISTIAN (74) – Sazon 24, Ayonayon 15, Pallatao 14, Mescallado 12, Dangca 5, Catipay 3, Malto 1, Vasquez 0, Bautista 0, Leron 0.
Period Scores: 23-11, 51-33, 70-50, 89-74.
CENTRO ESCOLAR (70) – Ebondo 12, Manlangit 12, Casino 9, Telen, Opiso 6, Abundo 6, Celso 5, Arim 4, Jeruta 4, Saber 3, Anunciacion 2, Gallemit 0, Vargas 0, K. de Leon 0.
PASAY (47) – Telpo 14, Solero 12, Erice 10, Penaredondo 5, M. de la Cruz 2, Lizardo 2, Castaneda 2, Pervera 0, Pazzibugan 0, R. de la Cruz 0, Varquez 0, Padilla 0, Encina 0.
Period Scores: 15-4, 26-13, 46-30, 70-47.