Altamirano herds Stags to victory over Chiefs
Ichie Altamirano started building a special kind of bond with his fellow San Sebastian Stags during a preseason full of big possibilities.
The harmonious connection they’ve been working on obviously trickled into the NCAA men’s basketball tournament after the Stags kicked off the season with a compelling 60-51 win over the Arellano Chiefs on Tuesday in San Juan City.
“Me and my teammates, we always talk. Not only during games or during practice, we make sure to spend more time together as a team,’’ said Altamirano, who embraced his role as one of the leaders of the Stags.
The graduating guard showed off his diverse skill-set by sinking 10 points on top of recording four assists, four rebounds and two steals for the Stags, who bolted out of the Chiefs’ hunt in the third quarter.
“In our team, we all have roles to play. But what we really focused on was translating an efficient defense into good offense,’’ said Altamirano.
Shane Menina, Arellano’s offensive machine, broke down in the face of San Sebastian’s swarming defense, missing all his five attempts, most of them with a hand on his face, and ending up scoreless in the process.
Rookie Rhinwill Yambing converted the Stags’ defensive stops into points in the third, pouring six of his nine points in that span to help his team pull away.
“I think the guys just proved themselves that if we play defense, our offense will eventually click. That’s our battle cry and the motivation of the team. I just hope we can bring it to our succeeding games,’’ said San Sebastian coach Egay Macaraya.
The Chiefs came within six on a big run before Tristan Felebrico halted Arellano on its tracks with a three-point play for a safe cushion with less than two minutes before the final buzzer.
“We never stop communicating on the floor. That’s what we do even in practice and the result has been good so far,’’ said Altamirano.
San Beda handed rookie coach Yuri Escueta his first NCAA victory as the Lions smashed Emilio Aguinaldo College, 85-56, in the second game.
Escueta’s breakthrough triumph allowed San Beda to recover from an opening-day loss to Mapua.
The Lions were in annihilation mode right away, jumping on the defenseless Generals, 32-7, on the efforts of Damie Cuntapay, James Kwekuteye and Peter Alfaro.
There was no turning back from there as gap only grew further in the succeeding periods. INQ
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