MANDALUYONG CITY – Saint Clare College of Caloocan survived the early ejection of their head coach to carve out an 83-74 win over Lyceum of Subic Bay to advance to the championship series of the 16th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Seniors Division at the Rizal Technological University Gym Sunday (October 9). This marks the fifth straight year that the Saints will play for the title, winning it all way back in 2012.
Coach Jino Manansala was thrown out of the game due to back-to-back technical fouls with 1:06 left in the opening period and the Saints trailing, 13-20. The banishment of Coach Manansala seemed to inspire the Saints, now handled by first assistant Coach Tonton Sangco, as they patiently rallied and seized control by the halftime break, 35-33.
Carl Michael Lumbao fired a triple to begin the third period to restore the lead back to the Sharks, 36-35, but it proved to be their last hurrah. The Saints quickly countered with a 16-2 run starring guards Michael de Leon and Paeng Rebugio to build their biggest lead of the game, 51-38.
The Sharks proved to be a tough customer as Kevin Pelaez and Armando Timpog presided over the comeback and close in entering the final period, 53-50. The final period though became the private playground of de Leon and Rebugio as they joined Aris Dionisio in give the Saints a 69-58 advantage with under five minutes to play.
Lyceum had one final push as they came to as close as four markers at the 34-second mark on an Allen Fomera free throw, 71-75. However, the threat was immediately defused by free throws from de Leon and Rebugio to insure the Saints’ place in the finals.
De Leon had 22 of his game-high 27 points in the second half while Rebugio had 10 of his 19 points in the fourth period to go with 11 rebounds and three assists. Fittingly, both guards were named as Best Player.
Pelaez paced the Sharks with 10 of his 20 points in the first period. Lumbao also scored 20 points, taking over from Pelaez in the second half as he scattered 15.
Game One of the best-of-three championship series will be this Tuesday (October 11) at the Makati Coliseum. The Saints will play either the Philippine Christian University Dolphins or the top seed Our Lady of Fatima University Phoenix who are still disputing the other slot.
How They Scored:
SAINT CLARE (83) – de Leon 27, Rebugio 19, Rios 10, Dionisio 10, Fongue 6, Puspus 4, Managuelod 4, Fuentes 3, Hallare 0, Santos 0.
LYCEUM OF SUBIC BAY (74) – Pelaez 20, Lumbao 20, Timpog 9, Siewe 9, Fomera 8, Hansen 6, Santos 2, Saludo 0, del Rosario 0, Jacaban 0, Falaminiano 0.
Period Scores: 15-24, 35-33, 53-50, 83-74.