Stags ground streakin' Altas
MANILA, Philippines - Calvin Abueva followed up his double-double job with a triple-double performance as San Sebastian stopped Perpetual Help, 80-65, and notched its second straight victory in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.
Coming off a 23-point, 23-rebound effort against St. Benilde last week, Abueva was on the attack mode again, firing 15 points and hauling down 15 rebounds while adding a new facet in his game with 11 assists for his second career triple-double after coming out with 18 points, 13 boards and 10 assists last year.
"I decided to let my teammates take the shots and get them more involved," said Abueva, a top prospect in next month's PBA rookie draft, in Filipino.
The Stags, who lost their opening day game to the Letran Knights, also drew 23 points from Ian Sangalang and 16 markers from Jovit dela Cruz while rookie Michael Juico came off the bench to fire 15 points.
"Our main goal was to really play smarter and take care of the basketball by taking quality shots and also took out their running game by being quick in transition and stopping their shooters," said SSC coach Topex Robinson.
The Altas, who swept their first two games against the Lyceum Pirates and the Knights to tie the Jose Rizal Bombers, kept the game close in the first half, 34-35, but hobbled when the Stags toughened up on defense in the second half, scoring just eight points against SSC’s 23-point blast.
Nigerian Nosa Omorogbe led Perpetual with 18 points but failed to get support from the rest of the Altas.
In that third quarter struggle, the Las Piñas-based cagers made only two field goals in 25 attempts while hitting just three of eight foul shots.
In the nightcap, defending champion San Beda bucked the absence of Nigerian Ola Adeogun as it trounced Lyceum, 82-67, to grab a share of the lead with idle Jose Rizal with unblemished slates of 2-0 (win-loss).
Baser Amer paced his team with 17 points while Art dela Cruz, a rookie transferee from Ateneo, had 11 points and 13 boards that more than made up for the absence of Adeogun, who served out the second of the four-game suspension he was slapped for a misconduct last year.
Meanwhile, Lyceum's bid to become a regular member of the NCAA may be put on hold following the continued poor showing of its junior basketball squad.
The Junior Pirates absorbed a league-worst 14-117 beating from reigning three-time champion San Beda yesterday, stretching the team's run of blowouts to 20, including 18 last year when they lost each of their game by a mile.
"This is bad for the league," NCAA management committee chair Fr. Vic Calvo, OP, of host Letran, told The STAR.
Calvo said one of the major conditions set by the league to be accepted as a regular member is to have competitive teams in all sports in the first three seasons.
Competitiveness, however, doesn't necessarily mean winning games but losing them decently.
"It's part of the condition, guest teams must be competitive in all sports, it will play a big factor when the league starts discussing their application for regular membership," said Calvo.
Joey Mente, a nine-year pro and Lyceum alumnus who took over the Lyceum coaching reins last January, however, stressed he's been teaching his young and raw players to play with heart despite the lopsided defeats.
"If you will notice, whenever my player starts to feel low, I keep telling them to keep their heads up to show them we're not going down without at least showing some dignity and pride," said Mente.
Herc Callanta, Lyceum's board representative, said they were rolling with the punches this year and last hoping for a better year next season.
"The team was formed two years ago, thus this team's obvious youthfulness compared to the rest of the NCAA squads," said Callanta. "There are some recruits who are still establishing residence who will be able to raise the team's competitiveness next year."
San Beda coach Britt Reroma said this should not happen. “I’m sad for them (Lyceum), it shouldn’t been like this.”