San Sebastian broke away after a rough first half to demolish hapless Perpetual Help, 87-60, for its third win in the 87th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Stags drew productive games from stars Calvin Abueva and Ronald Pascual, nicknamed the “Pinatubo Twins” because of their explosive games and Pampanga roots, while their role players also came out with solid efforts to buck a first half that saw the teams figuring in a close encounter.
It was the third straight year that San Sebastian started the season with a 3-0 record, but coach Topex Robinson admitted that he’s still taking a gradual step as far as handling the squad led by three grizzled stars in Abueva, Pascual, and center Ian Sangalang.
“There comes a time when we would come out and play sluggish against a team like Perpetual,” said Robinson, who took over for Turo Valenzona just days before the start of the season.
“It seems at the start the players were trying to just score against them instead of playing defense,” he added. “They were playing [Perpetual's] brand of basketball. Good thing, we we’re able to adjust and play our own brand of play.”
SSC-R won despite losing guard Jonathan Semira in the second quarter to an ankle injury. Semira awkwardly landed on the floor with 2:56 left in the period and was brought to the locker room on a stretcher.
At that point, the Stags led 29-27 before taking a 35-31 halftime lead. But they pounded on the struggling Altas in the second half to post their biggest margin of victory since beating Emilio Aguinaldo College, 81-63, on August 23, 2010.
Abueva, the bullstrong 6-foot-3 forward, posted a career-high 31 points, grabbed 15 rebounds, and dished out seven assists in 31 minutes off the bench. He was three assists shy of his first-ever triple-double but registered his 26th career double-double.
Pascual likewise produced a personal best 29 points on 11-of-19 shooting. He also had six rebounds and two assists.
Sangalang was the third double-digit scorer of San Sebastian with 10 points aside from hauling down five boards.
Robinson opted to start Dexter Maiquez at the forward spot and the third-year player had five points and eight boards in 23 minutes.
Joel Jolangcob and Jet Vidal scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, but Perpetual fell to 0-4 for the second straight season.
The Altas have not won against the Stags in six years.
SAN SEBASTIAN 87 – Abueva 31, Pascual 29, Sangalang 10, Maiquez 5, Miranda 4, Semira 3, Antipuesto 3, del Rio 2, Ferrer 0, Balucanag 0, dela Cruz 0, Vitug 0.
PERPETUAL 60 – Jolangcob 13, Vidal 11, Sumera 8, Alano 8, Sison 8, Arboleda 7, Elopre 3, Thompson 2, Tonggal 0, Paulino 0, Parico 0, Asuncion 0.
Quarters: 15-15; 35-31; 58-45; 87-60.