San Sebastian College Recoletos de Cavite put on an overwhelming display to oust defending champion STI College, 86-77, to win the 8th NAASCU basketball title at the Makati Coliseum.
The Baycats leaned on Most Valuable Player Kris Lucernas, Mythical 10 members Ray Alcasabas and Oliver Villareal and reserve big man Mark Basa to lead the team to its first-ever title since joining the league two years ago.
Lucernas led SSCR-C with 19 points while Alcasabas added 18 as they won the last two games of the series after suffering a heartbreaking 75-72 defeat to the Olympians in Game 1.
“Determined talaga ang mga players at talagang pinaghirapan nila itong championship,” said San Sebastian head coach Egay Macaraya, who has been the team’s mentor since 2001.
Basa scored 16 points while Villareal added 12 markers as the Baycats, who has relied mostly on its outside shooting and run-and-gun system, erupted in the second half after a tight match through the first two quarters.
William Vasallo led STI with 21 points while Mythical Five member Ramon Mabayo made 17 markers. Arnold Danganan added 14 points as the Vic Ycasiano-coached squad failed to join the five-peat University of Manila Hawks to win two straight titles.
The Cavite City-based actually trailed 49-43 midway through the third period after Norman Ihalas uncorked two consecutive triples but Basa made two quick threes to tie the game while Alcasabas finished off a huge 15-1 run with back-to-back treys for a 58-50 edge with 2:44 in the third.
STI had several opportunities to pull closer, with Mabayo hitting a free throw to trail by just three, 74-71, with 6:05 to go in the game. But Alcasabas drove past two defenders for a layup while Lucernas scored on a putback that virtually put the game away, 80-73, with 2:27 left on the clock.
“Ang disadvantage namin against STI is yung experience nila but I think mas preparado kami kahit champion team sila.” said Macaraya, whose team composed mainly of youngsters after the team lost several players due to a new league rule that lowered the maximum age limit to 23 years old.
The championship marked a rough road for the Baycats after almost being expelled from the league in its first season in 2006 when Macaraya was suspended for an incident with an opposing player before losing to STI by a blowout in last year's final four.
Aside from its first championship, the Baycats also gained an outright berth to the Sweet 16 of next month’s Philippine Collegiate Championships that will compose of teams from the UAAP, NCAA and the CESAFI, among others.
Lucernas scored the last seven in a 10-0 blast in between the first and second periods as San Sebastian grabbed a 24-19 lead before taking its biggest lead of the half at 29-22 on a drive by Alcasabas.
STI managed to tie the game at 33-33 on five straight points by Mabayo only to see Lucernas connecting on a triple with six seconds left that gave the Baycats the lead at halftime.
Ihalas scored 12 points for the Olympians but saw Darryl Mendoza and Jay Aransazo combining for just eight points after making 20 points each in Game 2 as STI lost their third in four straight finals appearances dating back to 2005.
Lucernas, teammate Jun Gracilla and Mabayo were joined in the Mythical Five by Lyceum of Subic Bay’s JC Collado and St Clare College of Caloocan’s Richmond Sibal while leading the Mythical 10 selection alongside Alcasabas, Danganan, Mendoza, Villareal and Lyceum’s LA Gapasin.
Macaraya captured Coach of the Year honors while St Clare’s Ariel Parinas, last year’s Juniors’ MVP, won the Rookie of the Year plum. Sibal was adjudged as the Defensive Player of the Year.
The league also awarded its statistical leaders with Collado as the scoring champion, Parinas as the King of the Boards, and Robby Zablan of AMA Computer University with the most number of assists.
Baste Canlubang and Cavite has a good recruitment program, unfortunately the only "player" who tranferred to manila from cavite is the charming Erwin Estole. I hope baste canlubang can provide us with these hard working guys in the future.
* * *TWO Recollect-run schools made it to the Sweet 16 of the 2008 Philippine Collegiate Championship -- NAASCU champion San Sebastian College-Cavite Baycats of Coach Edgar Macaraya and CeSAFI runner-up University of San Jose-Recoletos Jaguars of Coach Edito Salacut.
* * *Both schools are in opposite brackets.* The Baycats with square off with the NCAA's Letran Knights while the Jaguars drew a date with UAAP runner-up De La Salle-Manila in the opening round.
* * *If the stars align properly, we could see an all-Recollect finale!