The Olivarez College Sea Lions banked on a fourth quarter explosion by Chris Lalata and Paulo Castro to upset last season’s runners-up Centro Escolar University Scorpions, 86-83, to begin the 2018 Universities and Colleges Basketball League season, Thursday afternoon at the Olivarez College Gym in Parañaque City.
The veteran duo starred in a crippling 24-0 run that gave the Sea Lions the 78-70 advantage, and they hung tough for the remaining 2:40.
The Sea Lions saw themselves mired in a 54-70 hole after CEU’s Orlan Wamar scored the final period’s first five points. Yanie Elie hit a field goal followed by a Castro triple, and it was Lalata from that point on as Olivarez seized the lead for good.
The Scorpions unveiled exchange student Malik Diouf from Senegal, and the 6-foot-11 beanpole tried to save his new team by answering with five straight points, 75-78. But Castro, Joshua Almajeda, and Elie preserved the win via the free throw line as CEU began firing blanks – save for a triple by rookie Kobe Caballero at the buzzer for the final tally.
“We finally won on opening day after three years, and it’s a good win because we beat the barometer of the league,” said coach Michael Saguiguit. “Lalata really wanted to play today because he wanted to prove his worth after he hardly played for his commercial team in the off-season.”
Lalata scored 14 points during the crucial fourth period run and finished with 31 points and eight rebounds. Castro followed with 11 of his 20 points coming in the fourth, while Elie had a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Orlan Wamar led the Scorpions with 18 points.
Diouf had a respectable UCBL debut of 12 points and 13 rebounds but it was not enough, as CEU lost in opening game for the first time in the league’s history.
In the second game, the Lyceum of the Philippines University-Batangas Pirates were able to hold on against the Philippine Christian University-Dasmarinas Dolphins, 82-72.
The Pirates enjoyed a 27-point lead in the fourth period, 72-45, until the Dolphins came surging back to cut the margin to only six points at the 1:21 mark, 71-77, behind the combined efforts of Lucien Mulamba and Ivan Ordiz.
Both teams traded free throw splits, until a quick inbound resulted in an open layup for Lowell Castro, followed by a steal that led to another Castro basket to settle the final count with 20 ticks on the clock.
Emmanuel Tagle paced the Pirates with 16 points and five rebounds. Arsene Mulunda was next with 15 points and six rebounds.
The UCBL will resume next Monday at the same venue, with PCU attempting to bounce back against Technological Institute of the Philippines at 2:00 PM. The first game at 12:00 PM pits newcomer Saint Joseph College of Bulacan against Diliman College.
Olivarez 86 – Lalata 31, Castro 20, Elie 13, Almajeda 8, Begaso 5, Sigue 2, Santos 2, Uduba 2, de Leon 2, Geronimo 1, Saguiguit 0, Terania 0, Rocero 0, Sala 0.
CEU 83 – Wamar 18, Diouf 12, Guinitaran 11, Uri 8, Rojas 8, Ke Caballero 7, Chan 6, Fuentes 6, Intic 4, Ko Caballero 3, Formento 0, Umeanozie 0.
Quarterscores: 25-25, 37-48, 54-65, 86-83.
LPU-Batangas 82 – Tagle 16, Mulunda 15, Castro 12, Alamo 11, Axalan 9, Saliente 7, Villanueva 6, Mesina 3, Padilla 1, Daligdig 1, Villegas 1, Clarion 0.
PCU-Dasmarinas 72 – Mulamba 23, Ordiz 13, Remolacio 13, Daitol 6, Liza 5, Austria 4, Paluodja 2, Piedad 2, Peralta 2, Mangadan 1, Diez 1, Frias 0, Palomo 0, Baccol 0.
Quarterscores: 21-9, 41-26, 63-44, 82-72.