(OUCH: Carlo Abadeza (right) seems to have accidentally elbowed Sam Abuhijle (16) during a rebound play).
The Arellano University Braves came away with a strong start.
It paid off.
In the end, Guilmer de la Torre and Carlo Abadeza led the Arellano University Braves to a 72-68 upset of the defending champion San Beda Red Cubs in Game 2 of the junior division finals.
Abadeza, who also had 11 rebounds, and de la Torre fired 16 and 15 points.
(Sam Abuhijle barrels his way past Jayson Danas (14)).
Their timely plays in the last three minutes allowed the Braves to tie their finals series at 1-1 in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament.
But, its still an uphill climb for the Braves, who need to score three straight wins over the Red Cubs to snatch the crown.
(Guilmer de la Torre (left) gets a screen from Albert Bordeos).
The Red Cubs, who have a thrice-to-beat advantage following an 18-game sweep of the eliminations, saw their unbeaten run end after 19 consecutive victories.
The Braves outdid the Red Cubs in the first quarter by coming off with a strong start.
De la Torre hit five points and combined for 10 with Ira Bataller to lead the Braves to a 25-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second period, big man Sam Abuhijle struck with 12 of his 16 point tally and kept the Red Cubs within range, 27-33.
(Ira Bataller (17) in a one-on-one with Sam Abuhijle).
Arellano went on to finish the half with a 41-35 edge off Nino Tamayo split charity.
In the third period, a three-point and two charities from de la Torre saw the Braves moving away by nine, 48-37.
(Albert Bordeos (left) looks for an open man after he is stopped by Lars Sunga).
In the fourth period, Evan Nelle hit 12 of 15 points he made in the last 10 minutes as the Red Cubs rallied.
They came on the verge of tying the count after Nelle stole off Godwill Calapine, and drove in with 3:06 to go.
(Carlo Abadeza(center) in a rebound play with Lars Sunga(left) and Sam Abuhijle (right).
But a triple from de la Torre allowed the Braves to move away, 70-63, with 2:47 left.
Nelle, who had 15 points, tried to keep San Beda close with a trey, 66-70.
(Addie Velasquez(no. 6) in a possession battle with Prince Etrata (9), Germy Mahinay (partially hidden) and Carlo Abadeza).
But de la Torre managed to keep Arellano ahead, 72-66, with his drive off Abuhijle in the final 1:22.
The Red Cubs had a chance to stay close, but Addie Velasquez bungled a trey, and Abadeza forced a turnover after San Beda stole the ball, tried to force a shot underneath.
(Godwill Calapine (10) in a rebound play with Germy Mahinay (right) and Lars Sunga (4)).
“Sa start pa lang,sabi ko sa kanila, kailangan strong. Mahirap kasi talunin ang isang team na ilang taon nang nagcha-champion. Kung magiging matino ka, stick sa defense, may possibility na tatalunin namin,” said Braves coach Tylon Darjuan.
The Braves found an answer to the Red Cubs fullcourt press with their 1-2-2 defense, and they managed to gain a 12-point lead, 65-53 edge in the last 8:07 off Abadeza’s inside game.
(Robi Nayve (7) and Guilmer de la Torre (right).
Personal Notes: There was a debate on whether Evan Nelle should be the finals MVP of Season 91 or not.
Philippine Star scribe and Sportsmaryosep blogger Joey Villar was for it.
(Nino Tamayo (in gray, left), tells Guilmer de la Torre that they have won).
I was not for it. Why not?
Because knowing how Evan plays, If he’s good in a particular game you saw him play, chances are he won’t be that good and consistent in the next game, and he’d be struggling.
When he saw Nelle play, Evan did well in Game 1.
But, instincts told me Evan won’t hold out in Game 2.
So, we placed a friendly bet in Game 2 of the Season 91 National Collegiate Athletic Association Junior Basketball finals.
I told Joey that if Evan and Addie Velasquez play well towards the end, the Red Cubs will win.
If not, and the pair of Guilmer de la Torre and Carlo Abadeza continue playing their A-game, the Arellano Braves will force Game 3, and live to fight another day.
As Game 3 unfolds on Thursday, I’m not gonna wager anymore friendly bets on Evan Nelle’s game.
He’s gotta learn how to be consistent just like Sam Abuhijle(whom I feel deserves an MVP award).
Arellano 72- Abadeza 16, de la Torre 15, Bataller 9, Sunga 7, Calapine 7, Velasco 5, Tamayo 5, Danas 4, Espiritu 2, Fornis 2.
San Beda 68- Abuhijle 16, Nelle 15, Bordeus 13, Velasquez 6, Nayve 4, Mahinay 4, Tagala 3, Lagumen 3, Etrata 2, Alfaro 2, de la Rosa 0.
quarterscores: 25-13, 41-35, 57-49, 72-68.