The Pinatubo Trio of San Sebastian did major damage again today with the three Pampanga natives combining for 68 of the team’s total output.
But it was Ronald Pascual who hit the big baskets, finishing with 32 points as San Sebastian weathered a fourth quarter rally by the Lyceum Pirates for an 87-79 win in Season 88 of the NCAA at the Arena in San Juan.
The Stags improved their record to 4-1, forcing a three-way logjam with Perpetual and San Beda at the top of the standings. The Pirates absorbed their second straight defeat for a 2-5 card.
The Pirates made a strong stand early in the fourth to grab a 73-69 lead with over six minutes left to play, despite playing without one of their main offensive options in Rich Guevarra, who was out serving a one-game suspension.
But three straight unanswered long distance connections from the feisty hot Pascual turned the tables for the Stags, who found themselves back up, 78-73, 4:14 left. The Stags never looked back after that.
“We missed a lot of free throws. We know that their guards are gonna give us problems. I just let them play. Actually, with a lineup like this, sometimes you don’t need to coach anymore because they can work on their own,” said San Sebastian coach Topex Robinson.
The Pirates found it hard to contain reigning MVP Calvin Abueva, who finished the game with another double-double performance with 16 points and 23 rebounds.
But it was Pascual, who is coming off an ACL injury on his left knee, that really gave the Pirates problems in the crucial run in the fourth.
“I was just telling him to shoot. He’s working on his own shots. He’s putting in all the work. I’d rather see him miss than not shoot at all,” said Robinson on the hard-working Pascual, who, alongisde Abueva, is playing his final year for the Stags.
“Nag-e-extra practice ako para bumalik ang laro ko. Wala na akong sakit na nararamdaman. Yung strength halos pantay na pero minsan naiilang padin ako dahil kailangan din mag-ingat,” said Pascual, the 24-year-old product of Mexico, Pampanga.
San Sebastian fourth year center Ian Sangalang collected sixteen boards, as the Stags dominated the Pirates in the rebounding department, 68-45.
The graduation of Lyceum’s leading scorer Chris Cayabyab, who finished the game with 20 markers and their two centers Daniel Garcia and Joseph Ambohot hurt the Pirates badly as they had to turn to their third stringers to finish the game.
Shane Ko gave scoring support to Cayabyab after finishing the game with a similar 20-point performance in the absence of Guevarra.
San Sebastian (87) — Pascual 32, Sangalang 20, Abueva 16, Dela Cruz 7, Antipuesto 3, Binuya 3, Juico 2, Maiquez 2, Miranda 1, Balucanag 1, Rebollos 0, Vitug 0.
LPU (79) — Cayabyab 20, Ko 20, Zamora 11, Francisco 8, Mallari 6, Ambohot 5, Martinez 5, Azores 2, Laude 2, Garcia 0, Edding 0, Pascual 0.
Quarterscores: 26-19, 42-37, 62-57, 87-79.