30 June 2014,
Rizal Memorial Sports Complex,
I had my expectations on the opening games of the 90th season of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament last weekend:
And so, here they are:
- I expected San Beda to survive the weekend with flying colors in both the men’s and junior divisions.
- That the Letran Knights will keep their composure are endgame against the San Sebastian Stags.
- Lastly, that the San Sebastian Staglets will have little trouble shrugging off the Letran Squires.
Surprisingly, my expectations were never met because their opponents gave them a good fight.
And so, this is how things turned out.
There were surprises and revelations last Saturday, and also last Sunday.
JRU LIGHT BOMBERS 76, SAN BEDA RED CUBS 74
They have never beaten the Red Cubs in six years.
And the last time Darius Estrella last had a big game was on July 16, 2013. On that day, the Light Bombers picked up their fourth win in five games at the expense of the Emilio Aguinaldo College –ICA Brigadiers, 94-82, in the first round.
(the crew of the JRU Light Bombers, led by Darius Estrella (no. 19))- photo sourced from Darius Estrella’s Facebook page.
While Jeric Adorio banged in 22 points and hauled down 14 rebounds for the LightBombers, Estrella had 15 points and 12 boards.
This time around, it was Estrella’s turn to shine,
Estrella struck when least expected in the last 1.8 seconds.
His clutch basket upset the five-peat titlist San Beda Red Cubs, 76-74.
This allowed the JRU Light Bombers to grab a share of the early lead in the junior division this afternoon (Sunday, June 29), at the San Juan Gym.
It happened following an alley oop pass from Mark de la Virgen to Estrella.
The pass set Estrella off to what was described by coach Nat Gregorio as “a nicely executed backdoor play for the game-winner.”
The giant-sized win handed the heavily favored Cubs their first loss after 21 straight wins since the first round two years ago.
Patrick Anonuevo chipped in a gamehigh 19 points for the Light Bombers, while Jamil Garcia and Estrella had 15 and 14 points.
Evan Furaque showed the way for the Red Cubs with 24 points, while Joshua Caracut drilled in 16.
“The boys, they followed the last play to the letter,” said coach Nat in a statement.
And so, it turned out the JRU Light Bombers are now celebrating their first win over the Red Cubs since season 84.
In 2008, the JRU Light Bombers took out the Red Cubs, 79-74, in the first round. But, got back at them in the second round, 71-59.
If ever it happens, this will ruin the Red Cubs chances of becoming the first ever team in league history to win six straight championships by finishing the season unbeaten.
Their setback comes a month after Red Cubs won a Palarong Pambansa gold medal in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
“We’re beyond happy beating the five-time champions,” added Gregorio in the second part of a statement I received.
JRU 76—Anonuevo 19, Garcia 15, Estrella 14, Dada 12, de la Virgen 6, Ross 5, Astrero 3, Estrada 2.
San Beda 74—Furaque 24, Caracut 16, Abatayo 12, Diputado 7, Framil 5, Alas 4, Bordeos 3, Decapia 2, Abuhijle 1.
Quarterscores: 16-20, 40-36, 60-54, 76-74.
SAN SEBASTIAN STAGLETS 62, LETRAN SQUIRES 52
Who would ever think that the Staglets would go into overtime against the Letran Squires.
The last time they struggled in finishing a game in regulation was three years ago.
SSC Staglet Jeremy Cruz (no. 7) defends against an EAC-ICA player in another game of the NCAA junior division last year.) photo sourced from hoopnut.com
Back in Season 87, and that was in 2011, they had 10 overtime games.
They lost the Squires in the first round, 65-85, and in the second round, 60-74.
And they never made it to the Final Four.
It took them three years to get out of the memories of such nightmarish losses.
Last Sunday, the crew of Jeremy Cruz and Jasper Magno led the fight, and they scored 15 and 13 points as the Staglets turned back the Squires, 62-52, in the extra period.
This little known unit has John Paclarin scoring six points and dominating the boards with six points and 11 rebounds. He got help from Cruz, who had nine boards, and Josef Sera, who finished with seven points and eight rebounds.
SSC 62—Cruz 15, Magno 13, Sera 7, Navarro 6, Paclain 6, Mercado 5, Alfaro 3, Malamug 2.
Letran 52—Gedaria 14, Gonzales 13, Rubite 11, Dungan 9, Ramirez 6, Balanza 4, Magsino 2.
Quarterscores: 6-15, 23-27, 37-41, 52-all, 62-59.
– THE SENIOR DIVISION
SAN BEDA 57, JRU 49
The San Beda Red Lions found their groove in the second half and, as expected, fended off the JRU Heavy Bombers, 57-49, last Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Nigerian Ola Adeogun finished with game-highs of 20 points and 14 rebounds.
His efforts propelled the Red Lions to their first win, setting their campaign to a great start.
The 6-7 Adeogun brought out his best games in the third quarter when he pushed his way to 10 points that helped San Beda turn a single-digit lead in the first half to a double-digit spread in the second.
The Bombers were never the same from there.
“Give credit to Ola (Adeogun), he really stepped up big for us especially in the second half,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez.
San Beda came out strong after the opening buzzer, erecting a10-point leads twice including at 14-4 on a basket by Arthur dela Cruz.
San Beda 57 — Adeogun 20, Pascual 9, Dela Cruz 8, Amer 6, A. Semerad 4, Abude 3, Mocon 3, Cabanag 2, Tongco 2, Koga 0, Mendoza 0, D. Semerad 0.
JRU 49 — Paniamogan 12, Lasquety 9, Mabulac 6, AbdulWahab 6, Balagtas 6, Benavides 4, Asuncion 2, Sanchez 2, Teodoro 2, Salaveria 0, Grospe 0, Manuel 0.
Quarterscores: 14-11, 29-21, 46-31, 57-49.
SSC STAGS 85, LETRAN 83
The SSC Stags turned to Ramil Ortuoste and rookie Rhanzelle Yong to turn the tide battle in their favor.
A clutch step-back triple from Ortuoste and a key steal by Yong allowed the Stags to repulse last year’s runner up Letran, 85-83.
They grabbed a share of the early lead with defending champion San Beda with the upset.
The Stags were behind, 82-83, after Reneford Ruaya scored off a pass from Kevin Racal.
After that, Ortuoste responded when he hit a trey that gave the Stags the lead for good.
The Knights turned the ball over twice, the last when Mark Cruz’s pass to Ruaya that was intercepted by Yong.
Yong, a rookie out of San Sebastian High and nephew of Ian Sangalang held onto the ball in the remaining time.
Jaymar Perez led San Sebastian with 20 points while Ortouste andJaymar Perez chipped in 16 and 15 points.
This gave the Stags the opportunity to avenge their 85-58 rout to Letran in last year’s Final Four.
“We’re expecting our rookies to contribute and they did,” said Rodney Santos, who spoke for head coach Topex Robinson.
San Sebastian 85 — Perez 20, Ortuoste 16, Dela Cruz 15, Yong 9, Fabian 7, Guinto 7, Calisaan 6, Aquino 3, Balucanag 2, Camasura 0, Pretta 0, Costelo 0.
Letran 83 — Racal 20, Ruaya 13, Cruz 13, Quinto 12, Nambatac 11, Gabawan 8, Calvo 3, Tambeling 3, Castro 0, Saldua 0, Apreku 0, Singontiko 0, Publico 0.
Quarterscores: 23-25, 38-41, 60-70, 85-83.