TOP seeds Our Lady of Fatima University and St.Clare College-Caloocan went through the eye of the needle to bring down their respective rivals in the 16th NAASCU basketball tournament at the Makati Coliseum.
Fatima survived upset-conscious Philippine Christian University, 62-60, while St. Clare outsteadied Lyceum of Subic Bay, 80-70, to move within a win of advancing to the finals.
The Phoenix and the Saints go for the finals berths in Game 2 of their best-of-three semifinals today at the RTU gym. Game 3, if necessary, will be played Sunday.
Chris Essomba and Joseph Marquez provided the clutch baskets for the Ralph Emerson Rivera-mentored Phoenix.
Essomba, a 6-6 Cameroonian, followed up his own miss to give the Phoenix a four-point lead, 61-57, with 19 seconds left, while Marquez split his free throws for 62-60 advantage with only seven seconds remaining.
PCU had two chances to steal the win after Marquez’s free throws, but Dexter Mescallado missed a potential game-winning three-point attempt and Yves Sazon a bungled a desperation shot as time expired.
Marquez finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Phoenix.
Mike Ayonayon carried the fight for the Dolphins with 17 points, followed by Jon Von Tambeling with 14 and Fidel Castro with 12.
The Saints shook off a nine-day rust to beat the Sharks behind the solid efforts of Paeng Rebugio, Steve Fongue and Rojay Santos.
Rebugio, who was named “Best Player if the Game”, fired 20 points, while Fongue, a 6-6 Cameroonian recruit, added 13 points and eight rebounds for the Saints of coach Jinino Manansala and owner Dr. Jay Adalem.
Rebugio struck hardest in the third period where he scored eight of his game-high 20 points.
St. Clare (80) - Rebugio 20, Fongue 13, Santos 10, Dionisio 8, Palencia 8, Rios 8, De Leon 7, Halllare 2, Managuenod 2, Puspus 2.
Lyceum (70)--Lumbao 15, Djilla 14, Pelaez 10, Timpog 7, Del Rosario 6, Jacaban 3, Saludo 2, Hansen 2, Santos 2.
Quarterscores: 22-22, 46-43, 66-55, 80-70.
OLFU (62) -- Marquez 17, Japzon 13, Cabrera 7, Juanico 5, Essomba 5, Pedrosa 5, Albano 4, Datu 4, Bargola 2, Perea 1, Qozum 0, Jimenez 0.
PCU (60)--Ayonayon 17, Tambeling 14, Castro 12, Sazon 7, Vasquez 4, Mescalllado 3, Malto 3, Catipay 0, Yasa 0.
Quarterscores: 11-19, 25-28, 40-41, 62-60.