MAKATI CITY – Manuel L. Quezon University snapped its two-game losing slump by escaping Colegio de San Lorenzo, 81-78, at the 16th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Basketball games at the Makati Coliseum Friday (September 9). Big Jun Gabriel may have got the better of the smaller Christopher Bitoon in their phenomenal scoring battle but in the end it was the help of the other Stallions that delivered the win.
A good start was all MLQU needed as they raced to an 11-0 lead. With Gabriel entering the game as a substitute, the Griffins managed to get back to tie and even briefly taste the lead in the second period but Bitoon scattered 10 points put the Stallions ahead at halftime, 45-37.
The 6’6″ Gabriel then began scoring at will, with his final basket of the game putting San Lorenzo within three with 1:40 to play, 76-79. Nikko Lao then travelled, leading to a drive by Mark Kenneth Carongoy that put the Griffins at their closest with 1:03 on the clock, 78-79.
Bitoon though had the last laugh as he sank two pressure-packed free throws in the ensuing play for the final tally as both sides swapped botched plays. A 24-second second shot clock violation by the Stallions opened a window for San Lorenzo with five ticks to play but Tristan Laman missed the potential tying triple at the buzzer.
Bitoon tapered on his scoring spree in the fourth period and opted to play decoy and set up his teammates. Still, the cat-quick guard finished with 30 points, six rebounds, five assists and four steals in a virtual one-man show.
Gabriel ended up with a record 42 points to go with 13 rebounds. He bettered the 41-point performance of Michael Ayonayon of Philippine Christian University against New Era University on September 17, 2015 at the same venue.
How They Scored:
MANUEL L. QUEZON (81) – Bitoon 30, Padua 11, Mallari 10, Pangan 9, Ignacio 7, Rivera 7, Lao 7, Aurelio 0, de la Cruz 0, Baliday 0.
SAN LORENZO (78) – Gabriel 42, Carongoy 15, Borja 6, Foronda 6, Baldevia 5, Ancheta 2, Callano 2, Laman 0, Vargas 0, Ajero 0, Alvarado 0.
Period Scores: 23-14, 45-37, 64-61, 81-78.