National University Coach and former National Youth Coach Eric Altamirano is blessed with good deputies during his time with the National Team and now with the Bulldogs in the UAAP. Two of his assistants are now strutting their wares in the National Athletic Association of Schools Colleges and Universities as Vic Ycasiano has been handling the STI College Olympians since 2004 while Mon Jose is on his third year for the Centro Escolar University Scorpions. Both coaches see to it that the RP Team is smoking when it comes to defense. That is why when both the Olympians and the Scorpions collided for the solo second spot, both teams employed similar defenses as if one team mirrored the other. In the end it was a game of wills as the STI College Olympians veterans came through to carve out a hard earned 67-63 win to gain solo second spot in the ongoing 11th NAASCU.
2009 Mythical 5 selectee Jerald Bautista and 2010 Mythical 5 selectee Rama Krisna (RK) Morales combined their forces in the third quarter as the Olympians finally caught up on the hard fighting Scorpions and more importantly gain the much needed momentum going into the pay-off period. The Scorpions started the game with more intensity as they forced the Olympians to turnovers and bad shots. The Mendiola based Scorpions racked up six straight points in the first three minutes as the Olympians could not buy a basket. The Scorpions were still leading 12 -5 with 4:36 left when the Olympians finally awoke from their slumber to put up a 7 – 2 run to end the first quarter just behind by a basket 12 – 14.
At the start of the 2nd quarter, The Olympians inched closer to the Scorpions as their fastbreaking game got going and gave them a 17 -16 lead with just 49 seconds gone in the 2nd canto. Unfortunately for the Olympians, the Scorpions stepped on the gas pedal as Leymund Babad and John Orbeta combined to give the Scorpions a paralyzing 12 - 3 run. The Olympians never knew what hit them as the Scorpions were threatening to blow the game wide open with a 28 -20 lead. The Olympians then closed the gap to a more manageable six point deficit at the half 30 - 24.
At the start of the second half, the Scorpions unleashed their shooters as they took a 36-25 lead with seven minutes and thirty seconds left. Orbeta, Babad and Gabe Rublico found a crease in the Olympians defense to give them their biggest lead in the ball game. Just as the Scorpions were about to blow the Olympians out, the Taguig based band of Zeus immediately woke up from their nightmarish start to counter with a crippling 11 - 0 run in the next two minutes. RK Morales led the onslaught with his hustle defense as he stole the ball, scored and gave out assists to give the Olympians more breathing room as the 2007 champions tied the score 36 – all on an emphatic fastbreak dunk by Maclean Sabellina. From there on it was a see saw battle until the Olympians seized the momentum once again after Noel Ohandja put them back on the driver’s seat once more 48 - 47 on a buzzer beating put back.
At the start of the fourth quarter Jerald Bautista went to work as he scored six unanswered points. Bautista scored on a drive, on a jumper and on two free throws to hike the STI lead to seven 54 – 47 with 8 minutes left in the game. The Scorpions would cut the lead to four 53 – 57 with four minutes left but the Scorpions suddenly lost their sting as the Olympians once again went on an 8 – 0 blast to practically put the game beyond recall as they led 65 -54 with a minute and 21 seconds left in the game. The Scorpions still managed to put up a gallant stand but their game ending 9 -2 run was not enough to salvage the win. In the end, it was Coach Vic Ycasiano’s charges that won over Coach Mon Jose’s team as both coaches shook hands, the veteran smarts of the STI head coach finally breathed a sigh of relief for the hardest battle to win is when both of you come from similar backgrounds. The Olympians are now in solo second with a 9 -2 slate just a game behind the University of Manila who is at 10-1 and a full game ahead of CEU at 8 – 3. Informatics is at 7 -4 while Our Lady of Fatima is at 6 – 5 and the sixth placed team AMACU is 5 – 6.
STI COLLEGE (67)
Bautista 15, Morales 15, Melano 10, Ohandja 8, Ablaza 7, Sabellina 7, Moreno 3, Chavez 2, Riva 0, Gabo 0, Bocablo 0,
CENTRO ESCOLAR UNIVERSITY (63)
Orbeta 17, Babad 17, Rublico 7, Dumapig 5, Lobaton 5, Garcia 3, Guillen 3, Garcia 3, Mejos 3, Magbitang 0, Gallardo 0, Parale 0, Jsamin 0, Chua 0, Lamosa 0,
Quarterscores 12-14, 24-30, 48-47, 67-63.