MAKATI CITY – AMA University banked heavily on superlative performances of guard Juan Carlo Garcia and forward Javine Serrano to shock top seed Saint Clare College of Caloocan, 91-77, at the start of the best-of-three championship series of the 16th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities at the Makati Coliseum Tuesday (October 11). All the Junior Titans needed was an early 30-13 lead which they never relinquished amidst the Junior Saints’ repeated rallies.
Serrano, a Grade 11 pupil, immediately made his presence felt as he scattered 13 of his 17 points in the first period which AMA took handily, 29-13. From there, he focused more on defense to finish with 13 rebounds and four blocks in 35 minutes.
However, the day belonged to the pint-sized Garcia who defied the much bigger opposition to explode for 31 points, 12 assists eight rebounds in almost notching a rare triple double in 37 minutes of play. The Business Administration sophomore saved his best efforts for the final period.
Suddenly, AMA’s once-imposing 20-point lead had evaporated to only six at the 1:29 mark after an 11-3 Saint Clare run, 81-75. Garcia then sank two free throws to ease the pressure a bit, 83-75, then proceeding to knock in six of the Junior Titans’ final eight markers to preserve the victory.
It was sweet revenge for the Juniors Titans who were at the receiving end of a 107-80 whitewashing at the hands of Juniors Saints in the very first game of the season last August 30. In that game, Raymart Lumabas sizzled for 33 points but this time AMA made sure the prolific guard would at least be contained.
The defense successfully limited Lumabas to only 19 markers this time, allowing his numbers to rise only the fourth with nine points that helped stage their final rally. Also hitting double figures were Arnie Alejandro with 15 and Mark Christian Yu who had all his 14 points in the second half.
Coach Mark Herrera rotated only nine players in the game with the likes of Garcia, Serrano, JR Barde and Karl Bautista logging over 30 minutes each. The defense forced Saint Clare to convert only 26 of their 71 field goal attempts while aggressive play underneath resulted in more rebounds for AMA, 52-41.
Game Two of the series will be this Tuesday (October 13) again at the Makati Coliseum starting at 12:00 PM. The NAASCU Juniors Division is open to all players aged 19 years and under from both the high school and college ranks.
How They Scored:
A M A (91) – Garcia 31, J Serrano 17, Bautista 13, Escoto 11, Barde 10, H Serrano 9, Rivera 0, Altamirano 0, Fortuna 0.
SAINT CLARE (77) – Lumabas 19, Alejandro 15, Yu 14, Torraneo 7, Fontanilla 7, Casin 6, San Diego 5, de Guzman 4, Reyes 0, Victoriano 0, Falo 0, Olivas 0, Hernandez 0.
Period Scores: 29-13, 45-34, 68-52, 91-77.