MAKATI CITY – Defending champion Centro Escolar crushed Saint Clare College of Caloocan, 77-65, and officially sweep the elimination round of the 15th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) basketball tournament Monday (September 21) at the Makati Coliseum. The day also saw Rizal Technological University and City University of Pasay capture valuable playoff spots with wins over their separate rivals.
With top center Rodrigue Ebondo saddled with three fouls as early as the seven-minute mark of the second period, other CEU big men Joseph Celso and Joseph Manlangit stepped up in his absence by combining for nine points to give them the upper hand at halftime, 35-32. The Scorpions then held on after the third canto, 53-52, despite Saint Clare continuously threatening behind the six markers each of Alvin Detubio and Jeffakins Aguara.
Ebondo miraculously avoided committing another foul and that was his cue as his inside stabs combined well with two triples from JK Casino in a critical 12-2 run to begin the fourth period capped by a Samboy de Leon triple to give CEU an unassailable 66-54 advantage with still 6:23 remaining. Ebondo was not finished as he added a triple of his own and an insane dunk for the Scorpions’ biggest lead of the game, 74-59, and 3:15 to go.
Ebondo accounted for 13 of his 26 points in the fourth period on top of 11 rebounds. Casino had a total of three triples for 11 points while de Leon, playing in only his second game of the season, was next with 10.
Jordan Rios fuelled the Saints’ hot start with 11 of his 21 points in the first period but sputtered in the latter stages. Ebondo definitely got the better of his marquee matchup against fellow exchange student Aguara who could only muster 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Saint Clare’s defeat paved the way for the RTU to join CEU in the semifinals. The Blue Thunder did their part in the earlier game by subduing a gritty Our Lady of Fatima University Phoenix, 79-72.
Leading comfortably since the first period, the Blue Thunder managed to thwart one final Fatima threat as team captain Storm Riva scored back-to-back baskets and assisted on the next field goal by Sandy Cenal for a 76-69 tally nearing the final two minutes. From there, Cenal, Roque Estoce and Ronnie Mayuyo preserved the victory via the free throw line.
Cenal powered RTU with 23 points and 10 rebounds followed by Mayuyo with 15 points. Joseph Marquez paced the Phoenix with 17 while Jerome Juanico and Benjie Jimenez chipped in 10 each.
Win or lose, the Phoenix are sure to play the waiting Philippine Christian University Dolphins in the knockout quarterfinals scheduled for Thursday (September 24) at the RTU Gym. The Dolphins ended up at Fourth Place with an even 3-3 record.
In the third game, Pasay finally scored its first win of the season but more importantly snatched the last quarterfinal spot after keeping New Era University winless in six games, 95-84. The Eagles will now go on to play the Saints in the other knockout quarterfinal pairing.
In a rare display of firepower, the Eagles unloaded a combined 61 points in the second and third periods for an 82-64 count in their favor and all players fielded contributing their share. The scoring tapered off come the final period but it hardly mattered despite the late New Era scoring spree anchored on Louise Bondoc’s outside sniping.
Aldrin Telpo led the way for Pasay with 21 points followed by Edgar Erice with 17. Bondoc made 13 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth period while Brian Ilarde and Nemesis de la Cruz supported him with 13 points each.
Aside from the start of the Seniors quarterfinals, three more games will complete Thursday’s five-game bill beginning with undefeated sides CEU and RTU disputing an automatic championship berth in the Women’s Division elimination round finale at 8:00 AM. A pair of stepladder games between Fatima and Saint Clare and Fatima and RTU will then begin playoff action in the Women’s and Juniors Divisions respectively.
How They Scored:
RIZAL TECH (79) – Cenal 23, Mayuyo 15, Riva 8, Bangeles 8, Estoce 5, Maloles 5, Tabi 5, Sarona 4, Pronto 4, Flores 2, Senires 0.
OUR LADY OF FATIMA (72) – Marquez 17, Juanico 10, Jimenez 10, Pineda 9, Jornacion 9, Gozum 6, Cabrera 3, Dizon 2, Rublico 2, del Rosario 2, Albano 2, Abapo 0.
Period Scores: 24-9, 38-29, 56-49, 79-72.
CENTRO ESCOLAR (77) – Ebondo 26, Casino 11, S. de Leon 10, Celso 8, Manlangit 8, Abundo 7, Vargas 3, Opiso 2, Telen 2, Arim 0, Anunciacion 0, Jeruta 0.
SAINT CLARE (65) – Rios 21, Aguara 13, Dionisio 9, Detubio 8, Acebron 4, Lunor 4, Galvelo 2, Puspus 2, Ibarra 2, Mendoza 0, Grimaldo 0, Managuelod 0.
Period Scores: 16-20, 35-32, 53-52, 77-65.
PASAY (95) – Telpo 21, Erice 17, Sarmiento 12, Solero 10, Lizardo 8, Cahansa 7, Castaneda 6, Penaredondo 4, de Vega 4, Pervera 2, Padilla 2, Encina 2, M. de la Cruz 0, Macaranas 0, R. de la Cruz 0.
NEW ERA (84) – Bondoc 29, Ilarde 13, de la Cruz 13, Akindele 10, Postigo 8, Pamat 3, Magkalas 2, Recetes 2, Bringas 2, Bebit 2, Absin 0.
Period Scores: 21-14, 51-38, 82-64, 95-84.