STI College Las Pinas came, saw and conquered as they pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat STI College Ortigas-Cainta 87 – 65 to join STI West Negros University as the early winners in Group A of the National Finals of the STI National Basketball Tournament 2017. Both teams entered the game with pristine records and STI College Las Pinas bucked the loss of four players due to various reasons to eke out the win and remain unbeaten and more importantly a chance to make it to the final four.
The duo of Danico Merced and Joshua Ruallo carried the fight for the Las Pinas squad as each player chipped in 21 points apiece with most of the damage coming from the three point area. The two shot 8 of 23 from beyond the arc for a decent 35% from three point area. John Del Rosario and Vincent Vigil on the other hand carried the fight for the Ortigas-Cainta team as the duo scored 14 and 11 points respectively.
The two teams started the game on equal footing with both teams seizing up each other and STI College Las Pinas trying to seize the upperhand after leading by a basket 13 – 11. Then Merced went to work as he fueled a 14 – 5 closing run to put the Las Pinas cagers on top 27 – 16. Merced and Ruallo combined for five three pointers with Merced burying two consecutive threes from way out the three point line to end the quarter.
Vincent Vigil gets two points
The first part of the second quarter saw STI College Las Pinas extend their lead to 34 – 16 as they opened the quarter with a 7 – 0 run to race to an 18 point lead with 8 minutes and 50 seconds to go in the quarter. STI College Ortigas-Cainta sued for time and after the ceasefire came out with their guns blazing as the Rizal based OrCa team unleashed a paralyzing 18 – 6 run as they cut the Las Pinas lead to six 34 – 40 at the end of the half.
The third and fourth quarter saw STI College Ortigas-Cainta inch closer as they were down 42 – 44 with still seven minutes left in the quarter. STI College Las Pinas then presided over an 11 – 0 run to come out on top again 55 – 42 and STI College OrCa, which won their last two games after overcoming fourth quarter deficits could not match the firepower of STI College Las Pinas. With STI College OrCa breathing down the necks of the Las Pinas squad 59 – 63 with six minutes left, Merced presided over a crippling 24 – 6 closing run that zapped the strength off the Rizal based Orca cagers. The win gives STI College Las Pinas the opportunity to make it to this year’s final four.
STI COLLEGE LAS PIÑAS (87)
Merced 21, Ruallo 21 , Apachicha 16, Nograles 9, de la Cruz 7, , Rico 6, Salvia 5, Ocampo 2,
STI COLLEGE ORTIGAS – CAINTA (65)
Del Rosario 14, Palanca 12, Vigil 11 , Al-Balushi 7, Reyes 7, Alcantara 6, Castillo 5, Zapanta 2, Cadiente 1, Afuang 0 , Domo 0,
Quarter scores: 27 – 16, 40 – 36, 59 – 51, 87 – 65