There are three things that the STI College Olympians should always remember and do whenever they go up for a battle – Tenacity, Energy and Faith. The Olympians thrive on their inner strength, heart and determination which are the things that fuels their tenacious defense. Their defensive tenacity was shown at the start of the second half as the Olympians used that third quarter onslaught to gain momentum and carve out a convincing 74-52 win over their first round tormentors – the Our Lady of Fatima Phoenix.
The Olympians ran their plays and defended the Phoenix cagers well but unfortunately there was something missing in the way they played – the Olympians lacked the energy to compete. The Olympians started the game like a house on fire as they went 5 -0 in the first minute of the game which led Fatima Coach Rensy Bajar to call an early time out. After that the Phoenix tightened their zone defense and countered with a 10 – 4 run to take the upperhand 10-9. The Olympians found it hard to find holes in the defense of the Phoenix which has found strength in their plays as they led the Olympians 16 – 15 after 10 minutes of play.
In the second quarter the Phoenix pounded the Olympians through superb plays and good defense as the Antipolo based Fatima team raced to a 23 – 18 lead after two minutes and 21 minutes of play. The Phoenix relied on the timely sniping of Paul Alba to keep the Olympians in check with a 29 -24 lead with 3:06 left in the half. The Olympians led by 6’4 forward Ivan Moreno eventually awakened from their slumber to string up six straight points to seize the upperhand 30 -29 with a minute and 35 seconds left in the half. The Phoenix scored a three pointer while the Olympians beat the buzzer as Noel Ohandja scored on a put back as time expired with both teams tied at the half with the score of 32 – all.
At the half, whatever STI College coach Vic Ycasiano said to his wards must’ve worked as the Olympians responded a hundred fold. The quarter started with a Jasper Melaño basket, a Jasper Melaño steal that was converted into two points and a Cedric Ablaza jumper. All of this in a span of one minute and three seconds that gave the Olympians a six point lead 38 – 32 which made Coach Rensy Bajar sue for time. In the ensuing play the Olympians forced the Phoenix into a turnover that eventually became a familiar refrain in the third quarter as the band of Zeus clamped down on the rise of the Phoenix. Joining the fray were Moreno, Cameroonian Noel Ohandja and D-League veteran Maclean Sabellina who combined for a 12 – 0 run after four straight points by the Phoenix. In a wink of an eye the Olympians were suddenly up by 15 with the score 51 -36. The Phoenix would squeeze in two more free throws but the Olympians would counter with six more points to erect a commanding 57 – 38 lead after three quarters. Fatima literally bled for their points.
The fourth quarter was merely a formality as the Olympians responded to every rally that the Phoenix would mount. The closest the Phoenix could get was at 48 -62 as their offense was in disarray and their life taken out of them. Leading the way for the Olympians is Moreno who topscored with 14 points while Sabellina added 10 and Ablaza and Jerald Bautista adding 9 apiece. Faith is what keeps the Olympians fire burning. The Olympians have faith in themselves and with each other and this is what makes their team a cut above the rest. The Olympians are still within striking distance of the University of Manila Hawks which beat AMACU 71 -68 to lead the league with nine wins and a lone loss which was the opening of the tournament against the Olympians. Stay tuned for the Olympians are on the verge of making it to the top.
STI COLLEGE (74 )
Moreno 14, Sabellina 10, Ablaza 9, Bautista 9, Ohandja 6, Riva 6, Bocablo 5, Melano 4, Gabo 2, Morales 2, Chavez 2, Alcantara 0, Labis 0, Ihalas 0, Ortega 0, Bellosillo 0,
OUR LADY OF FATIMA UNIVERSITY (52)
Alba 18, Lacastesantos 8, Jacinto 7, Rivera 6, Villalon 5, Aque 5, Antalan 2, Nsoga 2, Rosales 0, Benavidez 0, Flores 0, Calaguiran 0,
Quarterscores 15-16, 32-32, 57-38, 74-52.