Defending champion St. Clare, its players shaving their heads to boost morale, downed Fatima, 75-66, yesterday to book the last championship berth in the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (Naascu) basketball tournament at Makati Coliseum.
Marte Gil and Bong Managuelod turned in breakout performances by banging in 22 and 18 points, respectively, as the Saints advanced to the best-of-three title series against Centro Escolar starting this Monday.
The CEU Scorpions made it to the finals outright by pulling off an 11-game sweep of the eliminations.
Fatima secured third place by virtue of its 81-70 win over Rizal Technological in the step-ladder semifinals.
“We wanted to put our hearts and mind in sync,” St. Clare coach Jinno Manansala said of their decision to sport bald pates for the game.
“I saw our potential in that quarter and I knew we can do it all the way,” added Manansala, who played for University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP.
Centro Escolar also sent its juniors and women teams to the finals where it will face Fatima and RTU, respectively, in similar best-of-three duels.
ST. CLARE 75—Gil 22, Managuelod 18, Santos 17, Ibay 12, Jamito 3, Lunor 2, Ambulodto 1, Woundo 0, Matias 0, Cruz 0.
FATIMA 66—Marquez 13, Banaria 8, JR Mallari 7, JJ Mallari 7, Gallardo 5, Cabrera 5, Jimenez 4, Ignacio 4, Datu 4, Jornacion 4, Rosales 3, Flores 2, Pineda 0.
Quarters: 15-13, 47-31, 64-59, 75-66