Defending champions Saint Clare College of Caloocan Saints were unrelenting, taking Game One of the best of three title series for the 18th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) presented by Bitcoin Cash, as they defeated first-time finalists Enderun Colleges Titans, 81-67, at the Pasig Sports Center Wednesday evening.
Defense was the key as Coach Jino Manansala placed the taller Ray Rubio, and later Joseph Penaredondo, on Enderun top gun Valandre Chauca, who was forced to work hard for his points.
After torching the De Ocampo Memorial College with 15 triples in their two-game semifinal series, Chauca was limited to a solitary triple and the effect on the rest of the Titans became evident as they all struggled to find the basket.
A crippling 13-0 run midway in the third period gave the Saints their biggest lead of the game, 58-37.
In the end, Saint Clare’s experience and poise proved to be major factors, as both schools now regroup for Game Two.
Junjie Hallare topped Saint Clare with 24 points and six rebounds, followed by Joshua Fontanilla with 17 points and eight rebounds. Irven Palencia proved to be a stabilizer with 13 points and eight assists, while Mohamed Pare was a defensive anchor with 22 rebounds and five blocks to go with 11 markers.
Chauca still paced Enderun with 19 points, eight rebounds, and five assists but had to endure four of 18 shooting from the field.
Joaqui Mariano hit two triples as the only other Titan in twin digits with 10 points.
The Saints can wrap up their third straight trophy in Game Two this Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Saint Clare (81) – Hallare 24, Fontanilla 17, Palencia 13, Pare 11, de Leon 8, Santos 3, Catura 2, Fuentes 2, Junsay 1, Penaredondo 0, Rubio 0, Pangan 0, Tecson 0, Casin 0, Joven 0, Decano 0.
Enderun (67) – Chauca 19, Mariano 10, Maagdenberg 9, Dungan 8, Sacundo 8, Oebanda 6, Gatdula 6, Nunez 1, Tancioco 0, de la Cruz 0, Goethals 0, Mulvhill 0, Veloso 0.
Quarterscores: 21-18, 41-33, 64-48, 81-67.
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