Not even a two-hour delay due to a ring malfunction could stop San Sebastian from claiming the top spot in the standings after ending the night with a teeth-grinding 94-93 win over the EAC Generals in the 88th Season of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The malfunction resulted from a Calvin Abueva dunk during the warmups in which he hung onto the ring for too long. Abueva was right back to his usual self once the game started, tallying 26 points and 18 rebounds for his sixth double-double in seven games this season.
With the win, the Stags moved up to the top of the standings with a 6-1 win-loss card while the Generals are at rock-bottom at 1-7.
Cedric Noube Happi, who has been consistently delivering the goods for EAC, threw a prayer from beyond the arc which went in at the buzzer. But with the Generals down four before the shot, the Stags managed to escape by one point.
As early as the first half, the Stags, led by Abueva and Ronald Pascual, had the game in control when the two combined for 28 of the team’s total output in the first two quarters. The Stags held on to an eight-point edge at the half.
The Stags led by as many as seventeen, 76-59, in the last minute and a half of the third on back-to-back triples by Abueva and Lyle Antipuesto.
With 6:12 left, the Stags were leading 87-75 but a 9-0 run from Jan Jamon and Noube Happi brought the Generals back to within three, 87-84.
The Stags still were clinging on to a three-point lead, 91-88, in the last minutes. With 48 ticks left, Abueva muffed two freebies off a foul from Happi. In the ensuing play with 34 seconds left, it was Happi’s turn to fumble on his charities off a foul from Michael Miranda.
Abueva trooped back to the line and made sure to can his two shots but Happi was quick to answer with a basket for a 93-90 count for the Stags, 11.7 seconds left.
Pascual spit his charities with 8.7 ticks left to make it 94-90. Happi hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to seal the final count at 94-93.
“Calvin is nursing an injury so I didn’t want to force him much in this game. As I’ve said, this is not his league anymore, he’s pro-bound so he’s using this opportunity to set himself up on his way to the pros,” said San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson about his star forward.
“Just like what I told before, its gonna be a long series. I don’t want to burn out most of my players so I let the other players play,” he added after utilizing some of his third stringers in the game.
Pascual chipped in with 21 markers while Dexter Maiquez had 10 and 10 off the bench.
Ian Sangalang, a vital piece in San Sebastian’s campaign, was out due to a possible MCL injury on his left knee. He is expected to miss about two weeks, according to his most recent doctor’s checkup.
Happi finished the game with 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Generals who are on a seven-game slide. Jolas Paguia added 19 and ten boards.
The Generals were not able to get Jorem Morada, their main gunner in the past few games, to rack up his usual production. The sophomore guard was limited to just four points in fourteen minutes.
This is the second straight game that the Generals lost by a single point, the last due to a huge Jett Vidal triple that enabled Perpetual to get past EAC.
San Sebastian (94) — Abueva 29, Pascual 21, Miranda 11, Maiquez 10, Binuya 7, Dela Cruz 6, Juico 6, Antipuesto 3, Balucanag 1, Dones 0, Trinidad 0.
EAC (93) — Happi 26, Paguia 19, Jamon 13, Yaya 10, Munsayac 7, Chiong 6, Tayongtong 5, Morada 4, King 3, Mallari 0.
Quarterscores: 26-22, 49-41, 78-64, 94-93.