For the first time since STI College joined the NAASCU six years ago, STI finally hosted the games of the NAASCU at the newly built STI College Gym at the STI Academic Center at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Unfortunately though, everytime the Olympians play at home its as if they are not playing at home, the shooting and scoring of the Olympians was quite horrible and their defense was inconsistent. Nevertheless, the STI College Olympians still eked out a hard earned 60 – 58 win against the stubborn Informatics Icons.
The Icons opened the quarter with a 6 – 0 blast as the Olympians found it hard to penetrate the tough defense of the Icons. On the other hand, the Icons scored inside courtesy of bullstrong big man Mark Montuano who established his presence inside the shaded lane early on. The Olympians then regrouped and finally torched the nets as they managed to comeback and take the quarter 13 -12 mainly on their hustle plays and through main man and last year’s mythical awardee Jerald Bautista and his back up Jasper Melano.
The Icons on the other hand defended well as they shamed the Olympians big men by getting blocks and stops and translated those Olympians turnovers to fastbreak points as the flat footed Olympians had a hard time with their transition defense. Rookie Point Guard Rama Krisna Morales paced the Olympians as he scored 5 points in the quarter to give the Olympians some breathing room. However, the troika of Montuaño, Mario Leonida and rookie Jan Baltazar scored for the Icons as they seized the upperhand after 10 minutes of action 26 -24.
The second half was a battle of wills as the STI College Olympian’s defense finally came to town. 6-6 Cameroonian Center Henri Atanga-Betayene flustered two Icons shots and changed a lot of lay ups with his shot blocking skills. This allowed the Olympians to crawl back as the Icons threatened to break the game open. The lead would change hands depending on which team scores off a good defensive gem against their opponent. The Olympians used a fiery wind up in the fourth quarter as Betayene teamed up with Bautista and Maclean Sabellina as the three scored off their opponents and limited the scoring of the Icons. The crucial play of the game came when Rookie guard Hessed Gabo stole the ball from another rookie guard Eric Acuña after the Icons were about to attack. Norman Ihalas missed two important free throws that could have sealed the game with less than 10 seconds left after a good defensive job by the Olympians and Acuña turned the ball over and much worse held on to Gabo’s jersey which meted him an unsportsmanlike foul. Gabo made one free throw and the Olympians wasted the time on the clock for their third win in a row.
STI COLLEGE (60)
Bautista 14, Betayene 10, Sabellina 8, Ihalas 8, Melano 6, Gabo 6, Morales 5, Ablaza 2, Riva 1 , Alcantara 0, Chavez 0, Villadoz 0, Po 0, Moreno 0
Montuano 25, Baltazar 11, Leonida 10, JP Santos 6, Ubalde 4, Acuña 2, Castelo 0, K Santos 0, Ubalde 0, Corpuz 0, S. Santos 0,
Quarterscores : 13 – 12, 24 – 26, 40 – 39, 60 - 58