MAKATI CITY – Saint Clare College of Caloocan took the first step in reclaiming the title they last held in 2012 by defeating top seed Our Lady of Fatima University, 72-67, in Game One of the 16th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Tuesday evening (October 11) at the Makati Coliseum. Still, the Saints had to rely on big plays by their big men in the crucial stages to grab the all-important win.
Content with playing defense throughout the first three periods, Aris Dionisio and Steve Fongue finally got their offense going as they combined for 14 of the Saints’ 18 points in the final canto. Dionisio completed a three-point play nearing the final two minutes to stop a 12-0 run by the Phoenix starring Joseph Marquez that saw them come to their closest, 58-64.
The Saints actually once led by as high as 19 markers at the seven-minute mark of the fourth and were poised for a walk in the park. However, Marquez awoke the Phoenix with a triple but Fongue immediately countered with a nasty dunk in the ensuing play as the Saints remained on top, 64-46, before the 12-0 Phoenix run.
It was clear from the opening tip that Marquez, the Fatima team captain and graduating senior, was going all-out for the win. He had a quick 11 markers in the first, tapering with 10 in the middle two periods and capped his performance with a 15-point fourth period to finish with 36 points, more than half of the team’s total, to go with seven rebounds.
Still, the Saints managed to survive Marquez’ one-man onslaught as he failed to get enough support from his teammates. Jerome Juanico was the only other Phoenix in double figures with seven of his 11 markers coming in the fourth period.
Jordan Rios set the tone for Saint Clare’s romp with 12 points in the first half to finish with 15 points and five rebounds. Dionisio was the obvious choice for Best Player with 13 points, 22 rebounds and seven blocks.
Also contributing significantly for the Saints were Michael de Leon who hit three triples en route to 12 points. Junjie Hallare came off the bench to chip in 10 points as the Saint Clare reserves outscored their Fatima counterparts, 31-8.
It was definitely not a good day for the top seeded squads as they all dropped their Game One assignments. Rizal Technological University lost to Enderun Colleges in the Women’s Division, 74-77, while the Junior Saints bowed to AMA University in the Juniors Division, 77-91.
With less than 48 hours to prepare, both sides will now tangle in Game Two this Thursday (October 13) at Makati starting at 4:00 PM. Coach Jino Manansala hopes to annex both his own and the school’s second NAASCU Seniors championship with another victory.
How They Scored:
SAINT CLARE (72) – Rios 15, Dionisio 13, de Leon 12, Hallare 10, Fongue 9, Rebugio 4, Santos 4, Palencia 2, Puspus 2, Managuelod 1.
OUR LADY OF FATIMA (67) – Marquez 36, Juanico 11, Cabrera 6, Bargola 4, Pedrosa 3, Japzon 3, Perea 2, Datu 2, Albano 0, Gozum 0, Jimenez 0, Penafiel 0, Essomba 0.
Period Scores: 16-16, 33-27, 54-42, 72-67.