Generals battle Blazers
MANILA, Philippines -- San Sebastian College will shoot for the solo lead as it clashes with Jose Rizal University even as Emilio Aguinaldo College and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde take on the floor for the first time on Wednesday in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The San Sebastian Stags leaned on a clutch triple by Jamil Ortuoste and a crucial steal by rookie Rhanzelle Yong to turn back the Letran Knights, last year’s losing finalists, in a come-from-behind 85-83 win that sent them in an early four-way logjam on top with the San Beda Lions, the reigning titlists, the Perpetual Help Altas and the Arellano Chiefs.
A win over JRU, which lost to San Beda, 57-49, in Saturday’s opener, in their 2 p.m. duel, however, would vault San Sebastian straight to the top.
Although veterans Ortuoste, Jovit dela Cruz and Jaymar Perez led the team in scoring by firing 51 points combined, San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson believes it will also depend on how his rookies—Yong, Jeick Fabian and Michael Calisaan—would respond after making solid contributions in the first game.
In their first-ever college game, Yong had nine points, nine rebounds and a decisive steal, while fellow San Sebastian high school standout Calisaan chipped in six points, both coming from beyond the arc, and added two boards and a block.
Fabian, who was recruited from National University’s high school squad, for his part, also showed flashes of brilliance and contributed seven points.
“I love how my rookies showed up in their first ever college game. But we’re not rushing them, we’re breaking in slowly until they get used to how it is to play in college,” said Robinson, who played Yong, Calisaan and Fabian for 24, 14 and 10 minutes, respectively.
The Generals and the Blazers, meanwhile, will battle it out at 12 noon with hopes of jumpstarting their respective campaigns.
Both EAC and St. Benilde are brandishing practically the same rosters from last season. The Generals kept Cameroonian Noube Happi, Jan Jamon, Jack Arquero, Igee King, John Tayongtong and Sidney Onwubere, while the Blazers retained the exciting troika of Mark Romero, Juan Paolo Taha and Jonathan Grey.