Stags repulse Altas, gain 3rd seed in Final 4
THE San Sebastian Stags gained the third seed in the Final Four after they outlasted the Perpetual Help Altas, 81-71, in their playoff game last Tuesday in the 89th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan City.
It was a hotly-contested game that saw the Altas climb their way back from a nine-point deficit at the start of the fourth period and even take the lead. But Jovit dela Cruz connived with youngster CJ Perez and seldom-used guard Gio Vergara for the crucial moves down the stretch to hack out the win.
The win placed the Stags in the semifinals against second seed Letran Knights. On the other hand, the loss set a date between the Altas and the defending champions, San Beda Red Lions. Both San Beda and Letran will come armed with a twice-to-beat advantage. The semifinals will start on Nov. 7 at the same venue.
The Stags were ahead, 55-46, at the start of the final canto. But Harold Arboleda led an Altas’ comeback and put them in front for the last time, 71-70. However, that proved to be the last points that the Altas would score as the Stags poured it on, with free-throws from dela Cruz that put them back in front for good with 1:42 remaining.
Later, Perez made a couple of lay-ups and free-throws that sealed the deal for Perpetual Help. He led the Stags with 20 points. Vergara, one of 11 rookies on the Stags squad, finished with 10 points, spiked by two three-pointers in the final stanza.
Nosa Omorogbe came back from an injury to pace the Altas with 21 points but missing were the production of top rookie, Juneric Baloria and Arboleda, an MVP-contender this season. The latter finished with just three points while Baloria was no better, with a mere two markers.
San Sebastian (81) — Perez 20, Guinto 15, Dela Cruz 14, Ortuoste 11, Vergara 10, De Vera 4, Aquino 3, Balucanag 2, Tano 2, Rebollos 0, Gusi 0, Trinidad 0.
Perpetual (71) — Omorogbe 21, Alano 14, Thompson 13, Jolangcob 8, Oliveria 4, Ylagan 4, Arboleda 3, Elopre 2, Baloria 2, Dizon 0, Bantayan 0, Lucente 0.
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