MAKATI CITY – Armed with a coach who is well-versed in home and away regional leagues, visiting National College of Business and Arts slammed host team University of Makati, 81-77, at the latter’s home gym Monday afternoon (February 6) at the National Capital Region Universities and Colleges of Luzon Athletic Association (NCRUCLAA). Coach Lester del Rosario and his Wildcats successfully bucked the hostile crowd to escape with their second win in three games and join a four-way logjam for Second Place in Group B with Saint Francis of Assisi College, Philippine State College of Aeronautics and Philippine Merchant Marine School.
Coach del Rosario has had experience as a player and later as a coach with teams from his native Pampanga as they toured the country so such situations are not new to him. Early on, the Wildcats looked head for the easy victory until the Herons came charging back behind Jerico Estaris, CJ Dabby and Clark Ongpauco and take a precarious 62-58 edge entering the final period.
Estaris provided the Herons’ last hurrah as his triple gave them a 67-62 lead and this was quickly erased as NCBA countered with 10 straight points to grab back the upper hand for good, 72-67, behind the big plays of Denis Nuyda that netted eight of those 10. UMak gave it one last push and closed in via two free throws by Dabbay off CJ Catura’s foul with five seconds to go, 77-79, but Joseph de la Cruz answered with two insurance free throws at the three-second mark and the Wildcats broke up the Herons’ final possession via a steal at the buzzer.
Catura was still judged as Player of the Game with 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals as he presided over the Wildcats’ initial breakaway. Nuyda followed 18 points and eight rebounds.
Estaris was the high man for UMak with 22 points and six rebounds. Aliane Lapasaran backed him up with 16 points and six rebounds.
How They Scored:
N C B A (81) – Catura 19, Nuyda 18, de la Cruz 17, Acsayan 10, Biteng 6, Busa 4, Oreiro 4, Ilin 3, Detubio 0, Sagum 0, Lopez 0.
MAKATI (77) – Estaris 22, Lapasaran 16, Ongpauco 14, Dabbay 11, Redoblado 6, Sarmiento 3, Viray 2, Obiar 2, Fermilan 1, Burata 0, Lopez 0.
Period Scores: 23-14, 43-38, 58-62, 81-77.