Stags end Red Lions’ 26-game win streakBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA—The longest winning streak in the NCAA came to a grounding halt Friday night, buried under the weight of San Sebastian’s workmanlike effort.
With the duo of Ronald Pascual and Calvin Abueva on the firing end, the Stags got some measure of revenge and snapped San Beda’s amazing 26-game winning streak with a 70-68 squeaker last night in the 87th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the jampacked FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Flashing a more aggressive game, Pascual tallied 23 points while Abueva wound up with 21 as the Stags roared to a nine-game sweep of the first round, a feat they last achieved in 2009 when they bagged the title.
“This win is just sweet,” Abueva, who also grabbed eight rebounds and had two steals, said in Filipino. “The losses last year were really painful and all we wanted was to get back at San Beda.”
Letran, earlier, repulsed Jose Rizal U, 70-69, to wrap up the first round with a 7-2 card and stay within striking distance of the leaders.
Kevin Alas and Jam Cortes combined for 29 points as the Stags pulled away in the middle quarters and extended the Bombers’ woes. JRU fell to 3-6 in a tie for sixth with Mapua, Emilio Aguinaldo College and Arellano.
It wasn’t an all Pascual-Abueva show for the Stags, who drew solid contributions from Ian Sangalang, Jovit Dela Cruz and Michael Miranda to finally bring down the team that swept them in the finals last season.
It was the Lions’ first loss in eight games this season. Their historic winning run started with an 84-54 rout of Mapua in the season-opener last year.
“This is more than just our Big Three (Pascual-Abueva-Sangalang), this victory is about everyone,” said San Sebastian’s rookie coach Topex Robinson. “I’m just humbled by this win. As much as we want to celebrate, we just won half of the battle.”
The Stags needed a solid defensive stand in a wild finish that saw both squads go
scoreless in the last two minutes.
In a nip-and-tuck fourth period where no team led by more than three points, Abueva scored off an assist from Pascual for the Stags’ last basket at the 2:04 mark of the fourth quarter.
But the Lions couldn’t do better themselves as Dave Marcelo’s three-point play with 2:41 left turning out to be their final basket.
The Stags broke up two plays intended for Garvo Lanete, forcing the Lions to leave their fates to Anjo Caram and Marcelo, a center, whose last-second heave from the three-point line only grazed the rim as the buzzer sounded, sending the San Sebastian gallery into a frenzy.
With Abueva playing limited minutes because of foul trouble, Pascual propelled the Stags in the first half with back-to-back treys for a 32-23 lead—the game’s biggest with 1:33 remaining in the first half.
But Lanete nailed two straight triples to put the Lions back into the game at 44-all halfway into the third period.
“We knew it was going to be tough, we knew it was going to be close but it all boiled down to execution,” said San Beda coach Frankie Lim. “It was bad execution for us towards the end.”
San Beda completed a nine-game sweep of the first round of the juniors division with a 97-68 drubbing of San Beda, while Letran improved to 7-2 following an 89-76 victory over JRU.
LETRAN 70—Alas K. 18, Cortes 11, Almazan 8, Racal 8, Alas J. 7, Cruz 7, Dysam 5, Espiritu 5, Belorio 3, Espiritu 3, Cudal 0, Gabawan 0, Gabriel 0, Lituania 0, Mendoza 0, Pantin 0.
JRU 59—Lopez 16, Almario 14, Apinan 14, Kabigting 5, Villarias 5, Matute 3, Gaco 2, Carampil 0, Dela Paz 0, Mendoza 0, Montemayor 0, Monserat 0, Paniamogan 0.
Quarters: 20-20, 39-30, 55-39, 70-59
SAN SEBASTIAN 70—Pascual 23, Abueva 21, Sangalang 9, Dela Cruz 6, Maiquez 6, Antipuesto 3, Balucanag 2, Ferrer 0, Del Rio 0, Miranda 0, Vitug 0.
SAN BEDA 68—Lanete 18, Marcelo 15, Caram 8, Pascual J. 7, Amer 6, Sorela 6, Dela Rosa 4, Pascual 4, Lim 0, Villahermosa 0, Semerad D. 0.
Quarters: 16-17, 34-27, 53-55, 70-68