MAKATI CITY – Rizal Technological University shocked last season’s runner-up Saint Clare College of Caloocan, 81-77, in a meeting of erstwhile undefeated squads at the 15th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) basketball tournament Thursday (September 17) at the Makati Coliseum. RTU thus moved into a tie with idle defending champion Centro Escolar University at the top of the table with 4-0 win-loss cards.
With the scored knotted at 77-77, an unguarded Cyrus Tabi canned a triple from the top of the key to give the Blue Thunder the lead with 23 seconds to go, 80-77. In the ensuing possession, Nico Galvelo was caught stepping on the line and returned the ball to the Blue Thunder at the 19-second mark.
Rookie Mark Maloles was then fouled and split his attempts the final tally. Left with no option, Earvin Mendoza attempted a corner trey but it missed and the ball bounced around until fittingly landing into the hands of Sandy Cenal and nine ticks remaining.
Cenal missed both his shots but it was enough after scattering 27 points and 14 rebounds for Player of the Game honors. Tabi and Ronnie Mayuyo provided good support with 10 points each.
Saint Clare was ahead entering the final two minutes, 75-71, entering the final two minutes. However, Cenal scored six straight RTU points against a lone basket from Aris Dionisio to tie the game and set the stage for Tabi’s heroics.
Darwin Lunor paced the now 3-1 Saints with 15 points and nine rebounds followed by Jordan Rios with 14 points. The Saints really missed center Jeffakins Aguara who was suspended due to his ejection from their last game.
In the next game, Michael Ayonayon gave a performance for the ages as he exploded for 41 points and hauled 16 rebounds in Philippine Christian University’s 83-79 drubbing of New Era University. The Dolphins ended their elimination round schedule with an even 3-3 card while the Hunters stayed winless in five starts.
Ayonayon’s 41st and final point came via a free throw off a Louise Bondoc foul that gave PCU the lead for good, 80-79, and 36 seconds on the clock. The Hunters had a big chance to salvage the win but Brian Ilarde slipped and the Dolphins picking up the loose ball.
Christer Malto was quickly fouled by Angelo Bebit only to miss both attempts. In a sudden twist, Reyl Vasquez grabbed the offensive rebound plus a foul, splitting his attempts and again getting the offensive board for a foul and two more free throws all within the game’s final 12 seconds.
The seldom-used Vasquez backed up Ayonayon with 14 points as the Dolphins snapped their three-game losing skid. Scoring ace Yves Sazon suited up but was not fielded by Coach Elvis Tolentino after sustaining a severe ankle sprain in their last game.
Ilarde paced the Hunters with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Bondoc converted four triples en route to 16 markers followed by Marc Cabacungan with 14, 10 coming in the third period.
Meanwhile, Our Lady of Fatima University propped up its chances for a twice to beat advantage in the quarterfinals by keeping City University of Pasay still in search of a win, 94-86. Pasay and New Era will dispute the last quarterfinal berth on Monday (September 21) at the same venue.
Seeing their 18-point lead slowly evaporate to only three entering the final minute, 87-84, the Phoenix scored seven unanswered points to restore a double digit lead with 13 seconds left, 94-84. A series of turnovers proved fatal for the Eagles’ cause as this led to easy baskets by Miguel Cabrera, Martin Gozum and John Rovin Datu.
Fatima skipper Joseph Marquez had another superlative performance of 23 points and seven rebounds. Benjie Jimenez chipped in only seven points but had eight rebounds and two steals as his effort on defense earned him the Player of the Game citation.
Aldrin Telpo led all Pasay scorers with 27. Edgar Erice was next with 15.
The Blue Thunder’s win sets the stage for a marquee matchup with the Scorpions as the last two undefeated teams lock horns on Saturday (September 19) at the RTU Gym. The wards of Coach Johnedel Cardel are expected to rely heavily on the support of their home fans against the defending champions.
How They Scored:
RIZAL TECH (81) – Cenal 27, Mayuyo 10, Tabi 10, Maloles 9, Pronto 6, Riva 4, Bangeles 4, Santos 4, Senires 2, Sarona 2, Estoce 2, Flores 1.
SAINT CLARE (77) – Lunor 15, Rios 14, Dionisio 10, Galvelo 9, Ibarra 9, Managuelod 7, Mendoza 5, Detubio 4, Puspus 2, Grimaldo 2, Acebron 0.
Period Scores: 15-17, 39-43, 61-63, 81-77.
PHILIPPINE CHRISTIAN (83) – Ayonayon 41, Vasquez 14, Pallatao 7, Mescallado 6, Dangca 5, Malto 4, Leron 3, Catipay 3, Bautista 0.
NEW ERA (79) – Ilarde 18, Bondoc 16, Cabacungan 14, Bringas 11, de la Cruz 10, Bebit 7, Postigo 3, Magkalas 0, Recetes 0, Absin 0, Akindele 0, Pamat 0.
Period Scores: 15-12, 30-33, 50-55, 83-79.
OUR LADY OF FATIMA (94) – Marquez 23, Jornacion 9, Cabrera 8, Rublico 7, Pineda 7, Albano 7, de la Paz 7, Jimenez 7, Datu 6, Nunez 4, Juanico 4, Dizon 2, Gozum 2, Cruz 1.
PASAY (86) – Telpo 27, Erice 15, Penaredondo 13, Solero 13, Sarmiento 12, Cahansa 4, Encina 2, Pervera 0, R. de la Cruz 0, Lizardo 0, Castaneda 0.
Period Scores: 19-14, 45-32, 70-58, 94-86.