MANILA, Philippines -- The San Sebastian College Recoletos Golden Stags became the first team from the NCAA to win the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL), outlasting the defending champions Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles 73-67 in the finals Thursday afternoon at The Arena in San Juan.
The Stags, runners-up in the NCAA men's basketball tournament, broke the game open in the second quarter and never relinquished the lead against the reigning UAAP champions.
|Head coach Topex Robinson and Calvin Abueva celebrate San Sebastian's win over the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
NCAA Season 87 most valuable player Calvin Abueva once again came through for San Sebastian, tallying 20 points, 17 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks.
Abueva took over the game in the last minutes, issuing two crucial assists to Michael Miranda and Jovit dela Cruz, who made baskets that gave the Stags enough of a cushion to withstand the Ateneo rally.
San Sebastian prevented the Blue Eagles from taking their third straight PCCL championship despite being undermanned after losing star guard Ronald Pascual to an ACL injury.
Ateneo actually came into the game with more momentum, after defeating the Stags in the first finals game to force the do-or-die contest.
But the Stags were the sharper and more active team, especially on the defensive end, where they confounded the Blue Eagles with their zone.
Moreover, Ateneo did not get anything from two of their primary scoring options, as both Kiefer Ravena and Nico Salva struggled mightily from the field.
San Sebastian took control with a 13-3 run to open the second period, which gave them an 11-point lead, 30-19.
The Blue Eagles could not recover from that run, despite the best efforts of Juami Tiongson, who scored 11 points in the third quarter to put Ateneo back in the game.
The Eagles were able to bring the San Sebastian lead to as low as 5 points on numerous occasions in the final quarter, only to see Jonathan Semira, Anthony del Rio and Calvin Abueva make shots to put the Stags back in control.
This is the first major title for the Stags this year after they fell to their rivals San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA.
Before San Sebastian's victory, UAAP teams dominated the PCCL, with the Blue Eagles winning the title in 3 of the last 4 seasons.
Abueva, the NCAA MVP, added another feather to his cap after being named to the PCCL Mythical 5.
Joining him is his teammate, Ian Sangalang, who was also named tournament MVP.
Ateneo's Salva and Greg Slaughter, as well as University of Cebu's Junmar Fajardo, completed the Mythical team.