MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) San Sebastian College ended a three-game losing streak in thrilling fashion as they held off Jose Rizal University (JRU), 62-59, in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
After losses to Colegio de San Juan de Letran, San Beda University, and Emilio Aguinaldo College, the Golden Stags finally returned to the win column but not before weathering a tough challenge from the young Bombers.
Alvin Capobres shone for San Sebastian with 21 points and 8 rebounds, while JM Calma added 12 points and 13 rebounds. RK Ilagan struggled with his shooting, going just 4-of-17 for 11 points, but he added 6 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal.
Allyn Bulanadi, the Stags' leading scorer, had only 6 points on 2-of-14 shooting as he played through a fever. Also under the weather was Ken Villapando, who went scoreless.
"Ang hirap talaga, dahil maraming may sakit," lamented San Sebastian head coach Egay Macaraya after the game. "To God be the glory talaga dahil ang nangyayari, medyo hirap na hirap ang panalo eh."
"Hopefully, magtuloy-tuloy na, dahil kailangan namin ng panalo para makapasok sa Final 4," he added.
The Stags looked as though they were going to pull away after an unsportsmanlike foul on JRU's Chester Jungco led to an and-1 play for Calma, sparking a 7-0 blast that pushed them ahead, 54-45, with 4:29 to play.
But the Bombers responded with a 7-0 run of their own, highlighted by buckets from Agem Miranda to again make it a two-point game. San Sebastian pulled away anew, 61-52, off a triple by Capobres and a clutch shot from Rommel Calahat, but JRU pounced on their turnovers to turn the game into a nip-and-tuck affair.
Buckets from Ryan Arenal, JL Delos Santos, and Marq Dionisio put the Bombers within three points, 61-58, with 34 seconds left, and they had another golden opportunity when Arenal was fouled with 12 seconds left. The burly big man could only make one of two free throws, however, to make it a one-possession game.
San Sebastian then left the door open for JRU when Ilagan shockingly missed two charities, which his coach attributed to fatigue.
"Hirap na hirap na si RK," said Macaraya. "But the good thing is, he's embracing the responsibility. You can see the last two foul shots, hindi na pumasok. Pagod na pagod na talaga siguro."
Capobres came to the Stags' rescue, securing the offensive rebound from Ilagan's second miss, and forcing the Bombers to foul again. Calahat made one of two free throws, enough to peg the final score.
"The missing factor was the defense," said Macaraya. "Medyo malamya ang mga bata dahil may sakit, at kulang ako sa rotation."
Fortunately for Macaraya, they still had enough firepower to fend off the Bombers and raise their record to 8-6. The Stags now have a one-game cushion over Mapua University for the fourth spot in the league standings.
Thomas Vasquez led JRU with 13 points, while Arenla had 12 markers, and Dionisio scored 10. The Heavy Bombers dropped to 4-10 with the result, putting them on the brink of elimination from Final 4 contention.
SSC-R (62) - Capobres 21, Calma 12, Ilagan 11, Calahat 8, Bulanadi 6, Desoyo 4, Altamirano 0, Cosari 0, Loristo 0, Tero 0, Villapando 0.
JRU (59) - Vasquez 13, Arenal 12, Dionisio 10, Delos Santos 8, Miranda 8, Jungco 4, Amores 2, Dela Rosa 2, Macatangay 0.
Quarterscores: 11-10, 28-21, 45-43, 62-59.
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