MANDALUYONG CITY – Philippine Christian University found an unlikely hero in JR Yasa as he put back a crucial offensive rebound off a missed triple by Yves Sazon for the winning points in their 96-94 overtime escape from De Ocampo Memorial Colleges at the 16th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) playoffs at the packed and noisy Rizal Technological University Gym Wednesday (September 28).
Yasa was silent on offense all game as he focused on rebounding and playing defense but made the shot that mattered most with 19 seconds to go. The Cobras had several chances to reverse the outcome in the ensuing possession but the ring coughed out their point-blank shots resulting in a loose ball scramble and eventual jumpball with a second left that sealed their elimination.
Regulation play ended at 85-85 on a free throw split by Cobra Redel Fabro off a Chri Malto foul. The fourth period of regulation was no doubt the Michael Ayonayon show as he mocked all defenses and survived foul trouble to score all but two of the Dolphins’ points and assisting Yasa for the only points not to his name.
In the overtime, both Ayonayon and Von Tambeling fouled out early, prompting Sazon to step up by hitting a huge triple that gave PCU the lead for good, 92-89, and 2:33 to play. The Cobras bit back and eventually tied the game on a Fabro drive, 94-94, with 1:17 to go.
Sazon almost became the goat after missing two free throws off the fifth and final foul of DOMC captain Nino Macasling at the 56-second mark and the score deadlocked anew at 94-94. However, the Cobras bungled a golden opportunity to surge ahead after an errant pass returned possession to PCU and setting the stage for Yasa’s heroics.
Sazon was all over the court with 26 points and eight rebounds followed by Ayonayon with 22 points, 19 of those made in the fourth. Yasa finished with only four markers but grabbed 14 rebounds and had five blocks in 41 minutes of action.
Team leader Dahrell Caranguian topped the Cobras with 24 points but was sorely missed in the fourth period and extension after he received a big hit on the head that needed medical attention coupled with attacks of cramps. Without Caranguian, Macasling tried to carry the fight with six points in the overtime to finish with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Waiting in the quarterfinals for the Dolphins are fourth seed Enderun Colleges. The Titans will have the twice to beat advantage when their series begins on Saturday (October 1) at RTU.
How They Scored:
PHILIPPINE CHRISTIAN (96) – Sazon 26, Ayonayon 22, Mescallado 16, Tambeling 15, Castro 9, Yasa 4, Vasquez 2, Malto 2, Bautista 0, Galit 0.
DE OCAMPO MEMORIAL (94) – Caranguian 24, Macasling 16, Sabasaje 14, Manalang 11, Clarito 10, Gallardo 5, Fabro 5, Montojo 3, Ramos 2, Wenceslao 2, de la Cruz 2, Canelas 0, Lescano 0.
Period Scores: 18-24, 43-44, 64-65, 85-85 (reg.), 96-94 (OT).