MAKATI CITY – Saint Clare College of Caloocan booked the second spot in the finals of the 15th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) basketball tournament by routing Rizal Technological University, 80-54, in rubber match of their best-of-three semifinal series Tuesday (September 29) at the Makati Coliseum. The Saints will now play defending champion Centro Escolar University in best-of-three series beginning at 12:00 PM of Thursday (October 1) at the same venue.
Coach Jino Manansala’s gambit of using a small lineup paid off as they scored six straight points to seize the lead for good, 12-7. Overall, starter Bong Managuelod dropped six markers as the Saints easily took the first period, 19-15.
From there, it was an all-Saint Clare show as they would play mostly with three guards and one big man. “Aside from playing small, I also decided to give more playing time to the experienced players,” explained Coach Manansala.
After his good showing in the first, Managuelod returned to further fuel Saint Clare’s breakaway in the second half. He finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists to earn Player of the Game honors.
Jonathan Ibarra came off the bench to pump in 18 points. Aris Dionisio and Jordan Rios both had 15 markers and combined for 17 rebounds as Saint Clare dominated the boards, 51-34.
Despite the Blue Thunders’ constant attempts to rally, the Saints always had a ready answer and before long, the lead stretched to as much as 28 points late in the fourth period, 78-50. “I’m still proud of my players; they were just a win away from the finals and they will continue to improve next season,” said RTU coach Johnedel Cardel.
RTU main man Sandy Cenal led the way with 12 point and eight rebounds. Team skipper Storm Riva had a pair of triples in the first period for total of 10 points on top of four assists.
The Scorpions and Saints will mark the fourth straight year that they will dispute the NAASCU crown. Saint Clare was triumphant in 2012 while CEU has won the last two tournaments and is aiming for a rare three-peat.
CEU also qualified in the championship series in the other divisions. The defending champion Lady Scorpions will be challenged by the RTU Lady Thunder while the Junior Scorpions hope to snatch the trophy from the defending champion Saint Clare Junior Saints.
How They Scored:
SAINT CLARE (80) – Ibarra 18, Rios 15, Dionisio 15, Managuelod 14, Mendoza 5, Acebron 4, Aguara 4, Lunor 3, Galvelo 2, de Leon 0, Esguerra 0, Umbreit 0.
RIZAL TECH (54) – Cenal 12, Riva 10, Maloles 9, Tabi 7, Bangeles 6, Pronto 3, Malimban 3, Saborrido 2, Estoce 2, Senires 0, Villareal 0, Flores 0, Mayuyo 0, Santos 0, Peralta 0.
Period Scores: 19-15, 36-31, 58-42, 80-54.