PASIG CITY – Visiting squad De Ocampo Memorial College survived the ejection of their head coach and disqualification of five key players to come from behind and nip home team Pasig Catholic College, 89-87, in the main game of the 26th National Capital Region Athletic Association (NCRAA) Friday at the Saint Joseph Gymnasium. With playoff qualification on the line, the very physical and emotional contest took almost three hours to complete as the referees whistled both teams for a combined 66 fouls.
Coach Ronnie Dojillo left the game in the opening minute of the final period due to a pair of indirect technical fouls charged to him after the bench erupted to protest the fifth and final foul on team captain Peter Marc Manalang. Assistant coach Nino Macasling took over and Harold Lescano hit a triple to ignite a 14-2 run capped by a two-handed breakaway dunk by Tyrone de la Cruz to put the Cobras within striking distance by the 6:33 mark, 72-75.
The Cobras then executed the pivotal run of the game, a 10-0 blast beginning with a Reynold Artesano triple and the go-ahead basket by de la Cruz. Artesano was not yet done and plunked in another triple and Lescano quickly stole the ball and soared for a layup for their biggest lead with 1:43 to play, 87-81.
Jhonard Clarito was one of the five disqualified Cobras and still topped the Cobras with 19 points, nine rebounds and five steals. Artesano also fouled out but not before totalling five triples for 19 points while Lescano and de la Cruz both submitted 13 each.
Aaron de Guzman led the Crusaders with 24 points and seven rebounds but they did not play with stalwarts Dict Benedictos and Algie Chavenia who were both in civilian clothes. Mark Samonte came off the bench to pump in 20 points and eight rebounds.
The Cobras thus moved into a tie with PATTS College of Aeronautics for second and third spot in Group B at 5-2 but the former beat the latter, 74-68, last January 21. The Crusaders (3-3) will next battle University of Luzon (4-2) for the fourth and final quarterfinal spot at the Dagupan City People’s Astrodome on February 6, the final day of the elimination round.
How They Scored:
DE OCAMPO (89) – Artesano 19, Clarito 19, Lescano 13, de la Cruz 13, Gallardo 10, Pascual 9, Atabay 4, Manalang 2, Canelas 0, Ramos 0.
PASIG CATHOLIC (87) – de Guzman 24, Samonte 20, Calacalsada 16, Canon 9, Salen 8, Tamayo 5, Medina 3, Roxas 2, Ey Diana 0, Latorre 0.
Period Scores: 12-23, 39-50, 58-72, 89-87.