Saint Clare College of Caloocan was just too overwhelming to secure another seniors crown in the 18th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) presented by Bitcoin Cash Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Saints showed championship experience over the young Enderun Colleges Titans for their third straight title, 82-77.
Unlike the first game, Enderun came out fighting with early triples from Valandre Chauca and Mark Joseph Nunez and sustained off the bench by Michael de la Cruz and Mark Javen Gatdula.
However, that was short-lived as the troika of Junjie Hallare, Irven Palencia and Mohamed Pare went to work to seize control by halftime, 41-32.
An early ankle injury to starting guard Joshua Fontanilla forced Palencia to play more than the usual minutes and he appropriately gave the Saints their biggest lead in the third period, 48-33.
The best that the Titans could do was to close in by six, 75-81, with 1:14 to play on two Chauca free throws and the defense went to work to preserve the win and take home the prize, the fourth overall in school history since 2012.
Palencia topped Saint Clare with 23 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and six steals in 27 minutes. Hallare added 18 points while Pare plucked 25 rebounds on top of 12 points.
Coach Jino Manansala once again alternated Ray Rubio and Joseph Penaredondo on Chauca who still ended up with 27 points but 16 of those were free throws.
De la Cruz atoned for a scoreless Game One with 19 points while Gatdula had 18 points and nine rebounds.
It is still unknown whether Chauca will return next season.
Saint Clare (82) – Palencia 23, Hallare 18, Pare 12, Catura 10, Santos 10, Penaredondo 6, Joven 3, de Leon 0, Fontanilla 0, Rubio 0.
Enderun (77) – Chauca 27, de la Cruz 19, Gatdula 18, Oebanda 7, Nunez 6, Tancioco 0, Maagdenberg 0, Dungan 0, Mulvhill 0, Mariano 0, Sacundo 0.
Quarterscores: 21-22, 41-32, 65-55, 82-77.
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