Wanting to keep the tradition that former Perpetualite Bright Akhuetie started, Prince Eze showed his entire arsenal, leading Team Saints to an 84-80 win over Team Heroes to cap the NCAA Season 93 All-Star festivities, Friday evening at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Nigerian student-athlete finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks while playing a game-high 23 minutes. The third-year big man was crowned as the All-Star Game MVP, becoming the second foreign student-athlete to do so.
“Eze played really well. Iba talaga si Prince pag walang kapalitan. Nag-blossom talaga si Prince. I salute him for being the MVP,” said Saint head coach Boyet Fernandez.
With a different format this season, the Saints were composed of student-athletes coming from San Beda, Perpetual, Letran, San Sebastian, and Saint Benilde. And having a huge collection of talent at his disposal, Fernandez admitted that the first goal was to spread the minutes.
“At least nag-enjoy lahat ng players ko. We did try to balance the playing time for everyone so that they’ll be given a chance to play,” said the two-time All-Star head coach.
And in the showcase of the top talents of the Grand Old League, the final quarter was a fiery one, with both teams exchanging big baskets after the Heroes rallied back from a 12-point, second-quarter deficit.
With the game knotted at 77-all with 3:39 left, Rey Nambatac was able to score on a jumper with 3:15 left to give the Saints the edge. But the Heroes had some fight in them, as Mike Nzeusseu and Teytey Teodoro linked up capped by a mid-range jumper by the latter to give the Heroes a n 80-79 lead.
Robert Bolick, just as he has done all season-long, was cold-blooded, knocking down a corner triple from San Beda teammates Javee Mocon with 1:49 left. A miss and a turnover by Francis Munsayac followed by a pivotal error by Teytey Teodoro kept the Heroes at bay while free throws by Eze sealed the win.
“Ang gagaling nila. Pag na-coach mo na sila, makikita mo yung basketball IQ,” Fernandez said.
Gab Dagangon and Rey Nambatac added 14 and 12 markers respectively.
CJ Perez paced the Heroes with 15 points. Jerome Garcia and Kent Salado finished with nine and eight points respectively.
Saints 84 – Eze 17, Dagangon 14, Nambatac 12, Bolick 7, Quinto 6, Baetiong 6, Mocon 5, Valdez 5, Potts 4, Calvo 3, Domingo 3, Dixon 1, Baytan 0, Castor 0, Ylagan 0
Heroes 80 – Perez 15, Garcia 9, Salado 8, Victoria 7, Flores 6, Mendoza 6, Teodoro 5, Munsayac 5, Grospe 4, Enriquez 4, Bunag 4, Nzeusseu 3, Raflores 3, Onwubere 1, Ayaay 0
Quarterscores: 23-18, 45-41, 66-64, 84-80.