There is a latin phrase that comes to mind after today’s NAASCU opener "Amat victoria curam - Victory favors those who take pains!" The University of Manila Hawks won the 10th NAASCU basketball title at the expense of the STI College which the Olympians took painfully and is now paying the dividends of their hard work the past year. After that loss, the Olympians have now resurrected and its the turn of the Olympians to return the favor as they clipped the UM Hawk’s wings with a resounding 92 -72 victory.
The Olympians trapping defense produced wonders as they never let go until the end of the game. The Olympians forced the Hawks to numerous turnovers which in turn they translated to baskets. Leading the Olympians are their PBA Developmental League campaigners namely Cagayan de Oro native “Lightning” Maclean Sabellina who was a cut above the rest after scoring 23 points and hauling down 12 rebounds and swatting 3 shots. Sabellina who was recruited from the STI College Cagayan de Oro basketball team has now blossomed into a full pledge star as his three rim rattling dunks was tremendously applauded by the pre-dominant UM crowd.
The Olympians controlled the game early and had leads of three to five in the opening quarter which ended with the STI team on top 21 -16. In the second quarter the Olympians tried to put more distance between them and the Hawks as the men in yellow slowed down last year’s MVP Eugene Torres as a slew of defenders gave Torres only minimal space to operate. At the same time, Mythical 5 selectee and D-league point guard Jeff Viernes found it hard to penetrate the Olympians defense. The result was a ten point lead for the Olympians at the end of the half.
The third quarter saw the Hawks open the second half with consecutive baskets to cut the Olympians lead. With the score pegged at 46 – 40 in favor of the Olympians, the Band of Zeus mercilessly pounded on the Hawks as veterans Norman Ihalas, Jasper Melano, Ivan Moreno, Lester Bocablo and RK Morales took turns in scoring and made life harder for the Hawks as they alternately stole the ball, got the rebound and ran the break which resulted in a 15 point third quarter lead 61 – 46.
By the fourth quarter, the Hawks unleashed their final stand by unloading 26 points but was unfortunately matched by the Olympians everytime the Hawks would scored. Everytime the defending champs would start a run, Maclean Sabellina was there to douse cold water on the Hawks efforts. Sabellina’s energy was unmatched and that was what he used to infect his other team mates as the Olympians served notice to the rest of the league that every one who would lay claim to the NAASCU title would have to pass through them.
In the other games, the New Era Hunters beat the City of Pasay Eagles 66 – 62, the Centro Escolar University Scorpions beat Our Lady of Fatima Phoenix 77 – 69.
STI COLLEGE (92)
Sabellina 23, Moreno 12, Melano 12, Bocablo 11, Morales 9, Gabo 7, Ihalas 6, Ohandja 5, Ablaza 4, Bautista 3, Riva 0, Chavez 0, Labis 0,
UNIVERSITY OF MANILA (72)
Torres 17, Viernes 14, Ruiz 13, Manuel 12, Ibay 10, Ancheta 4, Flores 2, Bonleon 0
Quarterscores: 21 -16, 41 - 31, 61 - 46, 92 - 72