Disappointment was apparent in the National College of Business and Arts Wildcats side, but they still considered their second run in the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference fruitful.
The Wildcats ended their season earlier today, gutting out four grueling sets against the San Beda College Red Spikers 25-20, 23-25, 30-28, 36-34 at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
With a 2-3 card, the Wildcats finished fourth in Group B, two spots out of a semis seat. Last season, the Wildcats made a surprising run to the semifinals only to fall to eventual champions, Ateneo Blue Eagles.
NCBA head coach Ernesto Balubar admitted he had high hopes for this tournament but understood that his team was still going through several adjustments.
“We started at the very low point ‘di ba? We lost against UST, against UP and against Ateneo. But, nevertheless, hindi naman ako nagrereklamo sa performance ng team. It’s just a matter of transition – kasi I’ve lost my libero, I’ve lost also my opposite spiker so some of the key players last year are not here anymore,” Balubar explained.
The reigning NCRAA champions have pulled explosive scoring outputs from wiry open hitter Jason Canlas, the team’s leading scorer. To cap their season, Canlas poured in a season-high 27 points against the Red Spikers, getting crucial points for the Wildcats in the deuces during the final two sets.
Balubar takes pride in the players that have stepped up for him in the tournament.
“There is an adjustments made and, if you’d notice. I did not play the three games with my guest players (Jeffrey Jimenez and Renz Ordoñez) kasi my target really is to let my local players play the whole tournament,” Balubar said. “Yeah natutuwa ako dun, kasi big accomplishment.”
“Nagawa nila (regular players) makapagsabayan. Naipanalo pa ‘yung game ‘di ba? ‘Yun ngang makipagsabahan masaya na ako ‘yung manalo pa, it’s a bonus. Nakita na-push to the limit ‘yung mga bata.”
Ferdan Guanzon added 19 points while Daryl Valenzuela managed 16 markers in NCBA’s season-ender.
Adrian Viray led four Red Spikers in double-digits with 14 points. Guest player Peter Torres added 12 while Mark Enciso and Earl Gonzales contributed 10 points apiece.
The Red Spikers stumbled to fifth place in Group B with a 1-4 record.
NCBA (3) – Canlas 27, Guanzon 19, Valenzuela 16, Oclima R. 11, Nidua 6, Nullar 5, Gabutero 0, Lumachay 0, Oclima C. 0, Vicente (L)
SBC (1) – Viray 14, Torres 12, Enciso 10, Gonzales 10, Mascariñas 9, Paglinawan 8, Santos 2, Desuyo 1, Manliclic 0, Ulibas 0, Nicadro (L), Casin (L)