The St. Clare College (SCC) Saints beat the Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) Phoenix, 64-62, in Game 3 to claim the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Season 16 men’s basketball crown on Friday at the Makati Coliseum in Makati City.
The St. Clare Saints clinched their second title in the league. They bagged their first championship last 2012, which was followed by three consecutive bridesmaid finishes from 2013 to 2015.
“I am very happy for the players. We waited for this for almost three years. We’re very happy when we got the championship,” said SCC head coach Jino Manansala who was awarded as the Best Coach.
Paeng Rebugio opened the second half with a three-pointer, 35-30.
The OLFU Phoenix completed a 9-0 run to snatch the lead from the Saints with Miguel Cabrera driving to the basket and hitting a trey, Joseph Marquez scoring a basket inside the paint, and Jerome Juanico draining a mid-range jumper, 35-39.
Rebugio and Aries Dionisio sank back-to-back baskets from the arc with 3:46 minutes remaining in the third quarter to tie the ballgame at 43-all.
Both teams went on a nip-and-tuck battle in the fourth quarter.
OLFU’s Chris Essomba completed his three-point play in the 8:42 minute mark, 50-51.
With 3:24 minutes left in the match, Erwin Palencia drove to the basket off a steal to break another deadlock, 56-54.
Dionisio scored from a putback and sank both his free throws with OLFU drawing the foul with 2:04 minutes left, 60-57. Rebugio then hit a layup off a steal from Cabrera, 62-57.
Juanico drained a three-pointer for OLFU with 31.0 seconds left on the clock, 64-62.
Rebugio top scored SCC with 16 points, followed by Dionisio with 12, and Jordan Rios with 10.
Cabrera and Juanico led OLFU with 17 and 15 markers, respectively, while Marquez and Essomba added 12 points apiece.
In the Mythical Five were SCC’s Dionisio and Rebugio, OLFU’s Marquez, Lyceum of Subic Bay’s Carl Lumbao, and Philippine Christian University’s Mike Ayonayon.
SCC’s Dionisio and Rojay Santos received the Most Valuable Player and the Rookie of the Year plums, respectively. REALYN STEVENS