JOSEPH Sedurita banged in 12 points as Centro Escolar survived a last-minute rally from defending champion St. Clare yesterday, 45-44, at the start of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (Naascu) at Makati Coliseum.
Alvin Abundo helped up with 11 markers for the Scorpions who were held scoreless in the last two minutes after leading 45-38. But the Saints, still groping for form in the absence of their key players, failed to sustain their momentum and missed their free throws.
It was a revenge of sorts for CEU, which was swept by St. Clare for the title last year.
This time, though, the Saints didn’t have the services of MVPs Jeff Viernes and Eugene Torres who graduated last year.
D-League players Marte Gil and Elmer Managuelod tried to step into their shoes, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively, but their efforts fell short.
In the second game, Fatima drubbed City University of Pasay, 81-65. Playing with a new coach in former national player Ralph Rivera, the Phoenix were led by Jimmy Mallari who had 14 points and Lervin Flores who added 12.
Gio Ramos accounted for 14 markers, while Harold Lomtong chipped in 13 for the Eagles, whose losing streak already stretched to 14 games dating back to last season.
The league unveiled its new season in a simple ceremony graced by former PBA superstar Vergel Meneses, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas official Bernie Atienza and basketball patron Alex Wang.