In a highly emotional game, San Sebastian College-Recoletos (SSC-R) Golden Stags came up with a 77-70 win to grab their second win of the season at the expense of Topex Robinson’s, their former mentor, the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Pirates at the San Juan Arena on the opening game of Friday’s NCAA triple-header.
Five early deadlocks were witnessed in the game’s threshold as the match was played in a high-octane pace and a good exchange between the two teams. The Golden Stags started firing from the perimeter that did not find the bottom the rim early. However, Michael Calisaan went running in transition to pour in the points for his team. He scored his team’s first ten points, but mid-range pullups made the offense flowing for the pirates.
Jon Ortuoste drilled in the game’s first triple but it was Lyceum’s defense who dictated the latter part of the opening frame with a huge 10-3 surge to take a six-point lead after ten minutes of action. During the stretch, the Pirates came up capitalizing on forced turnovers with their fullcourt pressure defense while inside points increased.
Despite the slow start, San Sebastian countered with a strong second half with Calisaan continuing to pour on the easy baskets in transition. They dominated the rebounding battle while running in transition was the name of the game for the Stags. Calisaan scored 13 more points alone in an efficient shooting from the field, while their team limited the Pirates to nine silent points with their fueled running offense.
Lyceum opened up the second half with a triple but contrary to what transpire in the first half, the game slowed down with the defense being performed by the two teams. They combined for a measly eight points in the first four minutes of action, but the Golden Stags were able to maintain their double-digit separation. Missing his first three shots of the third, Calisaan made a fastbreak layup to cap a 5-0 run after a 3-minute mid quarter drought to pull ahead, 57-42. Ryan Costelo also caught fire to favor San Sebastian with eight points in the last part of the third, including two treys to help his team enter the last quarter up by 15 huge points.
In the payoff period, Calisaan spearhead to counter Lyceum’s mini-run in the first two minutes as they maintained the spread despite the Pirates playing better full court pressure defense. LPU’s run was halted with their misses from make-able attempts while early offense became San Sebastian’s trump card the entire match. In addition, Lyceum had a hard time breaking the eight-point barrier, but Victor Nguidjol started to take matters into his own hands by muscling his way underneath and a three-point play converted made it a 75-70 match with 79 seconds left. The Pirates made it interesting after a key stop on the other end, but two missed three pointers on their end left them scoreless for the remainder of the game with Costelo providing the game-sealing free throws in the dying seconds.
After the game, Jon Ortuoste, Michael Calisaan, and Bradwyn Guinto found it awkward that they were facing their old mentor. All of them are very grateful of the opportunity given to them by Robinson but they needed to set aside their emotions to get the win. “Niyakap ko ng mahigpit si coach [Robinson] after the game,” said Ortuoste.
For head coach Rodney Santos, a rookie coach, he said that he learned a lot in the first eight games of his coaching career in the NCAA. “Mahirap, but ‘yung win na ito is a good confidence boost going into the game against San Beda,” the grizzled PBA veteran said.
Calisaan finished the game with a huge 35 points, on an efficient 15/20 shooting from the field, and 16 rebounds. Smart Elite ambassador Bradwyn Guinto scored just seven points but grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked three shots. For Lyceum, Shaq Alanes continued his hot-shooting with 17 points with 3 three-pointers.
San Sebastian improved to a 2-6 slate while Lyceum drops to 1-7 and are now losers of five straight matches. The Stags will next face the San Beda Red Lions on Thursday, August 13 at 4:00pm while the Pirates face the EAC Generals on the same day at 2:00pm.
SSC-R (77) – Calisaan 35, Ortuoste 15, Costelo 12, Guinto 7, Santos 3, Fabian 3, Capobres 2, Sibal 0, Bragais 0, Pretta 0, Bulanadi 0, Mercado 0
LPU (70) – Alanes 17, Nguidjol 14, Bulawan 9, Sunga 8, Taladua 8, Mbida 7, Baltazar 4, Soliman 2, Lugo 1, Malabanan 0, Lacastesantos 0, Ayaay 0, Elmejrab 0
Quarters: 20-26, 48-35, 65-60, 77-70.