Allyn Bulanadi got motivated, got aggressive and got the San Sebastian Stags sealing a semifinal trip in the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament.
The league’s leading scorer erupted with a season-high 44 points for the Stags, who fended off a late resurgence by the Perpetual Altas on the way to a 99-94 win on Friday that completed the step-ladder semis cast.
“Allyn is ready for the big league and he has proven it many times over,” said San Sebastian coach Egay Macaraya.
The 6-foot-3 Bulanadi, whose offense is predicated on perimeter shooting, furiously attacked the rim in the crucial moments this time around, pouring 15 of his points in the final six minutes to almost single-handedly thwart the Altas’ comeback.
Bulanadi’s drive inside two minutes gave the Stags a five-point cushion that they preserved by limiting the touches of the Altas in the end.
“It was a difficult game, but it will be a lot more difficult in the semifinals,” said Bulanadi, who built his output around seven threes while also grabbing eight rebounds in a career-defining outing that allowed San Sebastian to shut the door on the Mapua Cardinals’ bid for a semifinal berth via a qualifying playoff match.
RK Ilagan drilled five triples and wound up with 22 points for the Stags, who registered an 11-7 win-loss record after the double-round eliminations.
The Stags thus arranged a semifinal meeting with the third-ranked Letran Knights on Nov. 5, where the winner faces No. 2 semifinal qualifier Lyceum Pirates. The survivor of that knockout tiff with the Pirates will advance to the best-of-three championships series versus the San Beda Red Lions.
Edgar Charcos finished his collegiate career with 21 points and Kim Aurin added 20 for the Altas, who wrapped up their season with a 4-14 record.
With only pride at stake, the College of St. Benilde Blazers leaned on graduating players Yankie Haruna and Clement Leutcheu to subdue the Cardinals, 68-62, in the other game.
Playing their final game in a Blazers uniform, Haruna and the Senegalese Leutcheu exchanged high fives and hugged their teammates with still 24 seconds remaining before the Blazers ended the season with an identical 9-9 record with the Cardinals.
The Cardinals had little else to play for after their semifinal hopes were flushed down the drain following the victory by Bulanadi and the Stags.
It was also the final game for St. Benilde’s Edward Dixon and Carlo Young while forwards Denniel Aguirre and Justin Serrano won’t be seeing action anymore for the Cardinals next season.
Ry Dela Rosa fired a career-high 21 points capped by a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds remaining as Jose Rizal U squeezed past Arellano, 77-73.