I hardly see a guy like Evan Nelle play in any crucial stretch of a game they played this season in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) junior basketball tournament.
I had an opportunity to see him play one of his best games last Friday, Sept. 25 at the FilOil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.
(Evan Nelle clenches his fist after going for a crucial drive in the fourth quarter).
Knowing that the game between the San Beda Red Cubs and the Mapua Red Robins will be held very early, I willed myself to wake up very early as well.
And so, I watched closely(or tried to) as Nelle score one of the Red Cubs’ crucial basket in their 89-84 stopping of the Mapua Red Robins.
(Jasper Salenga tries to drive past Prince Etrata(9)).
That basket he scored is one of those moments that I will never forget that morning(that’s next to the back-to-back triples of Pedro Alfaro, of course).
- San Beda Red Cubs 89, Mapua Red Robins 84
(Jasper Salenga (11) steals the ball away from Evan Nelle(10) while Red Robin Mario Uson provides support).
The Red Cubs rarely played a closely fought game for almost the entire season. Most of their games are easily won by big margins.
But not this one.
The Red Robins gave them one big fight.
The mismatches they got into with the Red Cubs allowed the Red Robins to go toe-to-toe with them until the fourth quarter.
They forced Red Cubs to turn the ball over 21 times (their third highest this season).
(Michael Enriquez looks for an opening in the San Beda defense).
On the other hand, one of their big men, Germy Mahinay was thrown out of the game on an unsportsmanlike foul before the first half after unintentionally hitting Warren Bonifacio in the face during a scramble for the loose ball.
The Red Robins, led by Mike Enriquez with 20 points, were ahead at 48-39, at halftime when Mahinay left, and was seen watching the games from the corridor, according to blogger Anthony Servinio(“I knew something was wrong when I saw Mahinay out there,” said Anthony).
(Coach JB Sison).
The Red Robins found a chance to overtake the Red Lions in the second quarter when they scored on every turnover they forced.
Romuel Junsay hit a layup, and it was followed by a triple from Sherwin Concepcion which broke a 29-all tie, and they went to move away, 34-29.
(Germy Mahinay (12) gets cornered by a triple team).
They eventually took a 42-31 edge behind a three-point play from Salenga.
Everything was decided in a suspense-filled fourth quarter.
(Michael Enriquez (9) gets chased down by Pedro Alfaro).
But, first the Red Robins were able to grab the upperhand.
Jasper Salenga, who is playing 100 percent after dealing with sore throat, struck with 18 points.
(Frank Yco (left) double teams Sam Abuhijle (16) with Jasper Salenga(11)).
His back-to-back baskets in the last nine minutes allowed Mapua to tie the match, and move ahead, 65-63.
They then took a five-point edge, 68-63, off a three-point play from Enriquez, who chipped in 20 gamehigh points.
In the next plays, John Lagumen drove and Eduardo Velasquez went for a follow-up, to move San Beda within a point, 67-68.
(A loose ball scramble takes place after Romuel Junsay(partly covered) slips on the floor).
The cat-quick Enriquez kept the Red Robins on top with his attacks, with his drive past Ry de la Rosa with 4:31 left allowing them to regain a six-point edge 76-70.
From there, the Red Cubs leaned on a 12-3 run to move past the Red Robins.
During this fast and furious rally in the last 1:39, Miguel Bonalos connected with a triple, and so did Alfaro with two, the Red Cubs went ahead, 80-79.
(Michael Enriquez(middle) tries to snatch the ball away from Eduardo Velasquez(6). Joshua Tagala(5) is seen providing a screen).
Nelle, who loves to sprint whenever he makes a steal, then makes a crucial snatch.
A double teamed Romuel Junsay was forced to give up the ball, which Nelle snatched.
He then scored as Nelle ran down the court and drove in with 1:39 left. This gave San Beda a decisive 82-79 edge in the next instance.
“That’s credit to my teammates. Na-pressure nila si no. 18, tapos na-bad pass, at naka-score ako,” said Nelle.
(Mrs. Gemma Salenga(right) and her two kids dropped by to watch the game, cheer Jasper Salenga on).
As Enriquez got into foul trouble, two freebies from Etrata pushed them further in front, 85-79, with 55.2 ticks left.
“Nakakapagod itong game na ito. Napapansin ko, papalit-palit kami ng tao sa loob,” said Red Cubs coach JB Sison.
Sison noted that the mismatches that the Red Robins played on the team got into their running game early on, making it difficult for them to pull away by big margin.
- Notes on Evan Nelle’s best games
- Evan came out with his best game in 7 matches against the Red Robins(21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals.
- He made 19 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block against EAC-ICA, 100-83, last Aug. 25.
- Nelle hit 12 points vs JRU, 95-71, on Sept. 3.
- Its 11 points for Nelle vs Perpetual Help, 109-53, on Sept. 10.
- Evan’s 10 points came when the defeated the Junior Pirates, 90-79, last Sept. 17.
San Beda 89- Nelle 21, Etrata 13, Abuhijle 11, Velasquez 10, Bordeos 9, Alfaro 9, Mahinay 8, Nayve 4, Lagumen 4, Tagala 0, de la Rosa 0, Bonalos 0.
Mapua 84- Enriquez 20, Salenga 18, Junsay 18, Concepcion 8, Uson 6, Garcia 5, Bonifacio 5, Yco 4, Camillosa 0, Badillo 0.
Quarterscore: 22-25, 39-48, 61-all, 89-84.