The STI College Olympians started the 10th NAASCU season with a bang as they beat last year’s third placed team the Lyceum of Subic Bay 80 – 63 in the opening of the 10th NAASCU Basketball tournament. NAASCU 9th Season Mythical 5 selectee Jerald Bautista carried the fight for the Olympians as he came off the bench to score 21 points . Ever since the 2005 season, the Olympians have never lost an opening game and the team kept that streak alive as they got back at their tormentors last year who relegated the perennial contenders to 4th place.
The Lyceum of Subic Bay Sharks started strong as troika of their newcomers Donn Ronquillo, Brad Johnson and Anjo Torres put the Sharks ahead in the first quarter 15 -6 as the slow starting Olympians found it hard to hit their mark. Veteran center Maclean Sabellina had a hard time adjusting to the calls and was eventually whistled for two personal fouls which made him go to the bench early. The two other veterans had a hard time hitting their mark as Bryan Daguplo was also whistled with two consecutive fouls while Norman Ihalas had a hard time finding his mark and turned the ball over twice. After much troubles and woes by the Olympians, Coach Vic Ycasiano called in the energetic Jerald Bautista who eventually got things going.
The Sharks were still leading 18 – 7 with 2:18 left in the period and was about to expand their lead when Bautista combined with former junior center Ivan Moreno to ignite a paralyzing 10 – 1 run to cut the Shark’s lead 17-19 after 10 minutes of play. Coming from that explosive first quarter end, the Olympians courtesy of Bautista scored on a basket with 7:50 left to take a 21 -19 lead that they never relinquished.
For the first time in recent years the Olympians have eight veterans coming back with eight new faces but one of them was a former Olympian Junior center, Ivan Moreno. The rookie that most STIers want to see is Cameroon native Henri Atanga-Betayene who at 6’6 is the heart and soul of the Olympians interior defense. Another set of rookies are the point guards of the Olympians who is led by former San Sebastian Stag RK Morales and ably backed up by former Junior stand outs Keno Alcantara who was once a Junior Falcon, Storm Riva who is a former Tiger Cub and Hessed Gabo. In the third quarter Morales dished the ball to a cutting Betayene who used all his might to dunk the ball into the basket. By that time it was all over.
The lead has ballooned to 19 points by the fourth quarter but the Sharks simply did not give up as rookie guard Donn Ronquillo sank three three pointers to cut the gap to 9 points which was the nearest the sharks could manage to cut. The Olympians called time, regrouped and poured on another barrage of points to win the game. The win is also a wake up call to the Olympians who thought it was going to be a walk in the park. The Sharks have already lost 5 veterans including Mythical 5 selectee Jessie James Collado who burned us last year. But this time its about time the Olympians time to drown the Sharks.
Second year forward Cedric Ablaza also came through with a nice complement to Bautista’s game as he scored 15 points. Betayene and Moreno finished with 11 and 9 points respectively to underscore the height and might of the Olympians inside the paint. Ablaza who together with Betayene and Moreno got lots of offensive rebounds and put the other team's center into foul trouble. Billy Ray Labadan had a hard time pushing and containing Betayene who exploded in the second half.
STI COLLEGE OLYMPIANS (80)
Bautista 21, Ablaza 15,Betayene 11, Gabo 9, Moreno 9, Ihalas 5, Po 5, Melano 3, Alcantara 1, Chavez 1, Morales 0, Villadoz 0, Sabellina 0,
Lyceum of Subic Bay Sharks (65)
Ronquillo 21 Velasco 14, Torres 13, Bilog 7, Labadan 5, Valencia 2, Rosales 2, Castillo 1, Ignacio 0, Buenaflor 0, Remorin 0, Timpog 0,
17-19, 34-29, 57-43, 80-65