LAST year’s runner-up St. Clare College-Caloocan and Our Lady of Fatima University pulled off similar hard-earned triumphs to set up a title showdown in the 16th NAASCU men’s basketball tournament at the RTU gym in Mandaluyong City.
The Saints subdued Lyceum of Subic Bay, 83-74, while the Phoenix outsteadied Philippine Christian Univeristy, 91-81, in overtime to arrange a best-of-three title match starting Tuesday at the Makati Coliseum.
Michael De Leon and Paeng Rebugio ptovided the 1-2 offensive punch, while Aries Dionisio, Mark Puspus and 6-5 Steve Fongue shone on the defensive floor for the Saints, who are seeking their second NAASCU title.
De Leon exploded with a game-high 27 points while Rebugio added 19 points for the Caloocan City-based school. Both De Leon and Rebugio shared ‘Best Player of the Game’ honors.
Aries Dionisio and Jordan Rios added 10 points apiece for the Saints of coach Jinino Manansala, assistant coach Nikko Bermido, and owner Dr. Ernesto Adalem.
But it was the defensive works of Dionisio, Mark Puspus and Fongue on Lyceum’s 6-10 Cameroon recruit Pabrice Djilla which made the big difference.
Djilla, who erupted for 35 points in the Sharks’ 81-76 win over the Saints last Saturday to force a rubber match, was held to only nine points.
Carl Lumbao and Kevin Pelaez scored 20 points each for the Sharks of former RP team mainstay-turned-coach Kerwin McCoy.
The Ralph Emerson Rivera-mentored Phoenix relied on Jerome Juanico, Miguel Cabrera, Erwin Bargola, Jovin Datu, Chris Essomba and Joseph Marquez to put an end to the Dolphins’ amazing season.
Juanico scored seven of his 20 points in overtime for the Phoenix, who finally found the answer to the Dolphins ‘never-say-die attitude.
Fatima appeared on the way to victory after taking an eight-point lead, 70-62, with less than a minute left.
But Yves Sazon waxed hot to trigger a swift 8-1 run to cut the lead to 70-71. After Miguel Cabrera nailed two free throws to make it 73-70, Sazon hit a three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
Jon Von Tambeling finished with 22 points, Sazon added 20, Mike Ayonayon contributed 15 and Fidel Castro had 12 for the Dolphins of coach Elvis Tolentino and consultant Ato Tolentino.
St. Clare (83) -- De Leon 27, Rebugio 19, Dionisio 10, Rios 10, Fongue 6, Managuenod 4, Puspus 4, Fuentes 3, Hallare 0, Santos 0, Palencia 0.
Lyceum (74) -- Lumbao 20, Pelaez 20, Djilla 9, Timpog 9, Fomera 8, Hansen 6, Santos 2, Saludo 0, Palameniano 0, Santos 0, Jacalan 0, Del Rosario 0.
Quarterscores: 15-24, 35-33, 53-50, 83-74.
OLFU (91) -- Juanico 20, Cabrera 14, Bargola 12, Datu 12, Essomba 7, Marquez 6, Japzon 6, Albano 5, Jimenez 2, Gozum 0, Perea0.
PCU (81) -- Tambeling 22, Sazon 20, Ayonayon 15, Castro 12, Mescallado 5, Vasquez 5, Yasa 2, Palattao 0, Bautista 0, Catipay 0, Malto 0, Abrigo 0.
Quarterscores: 16-15, 28-38, 53-43, 73-73 (OT), 91-81.