DEFENDING champion St. Clare College achieved another milestone by completing back-to-back men’s basketball championships in the National Athletic Association of Schools Colleges and Universities.
Led by by the troika of Aris Dionisio, Junjie Hallare and Mohamed Pare, St. Clare defeated De Ocampo Memorial College, 98-83, to capture its third title before an overflow crowd at the San Andres Sports Complex in Malate, Manila.
The Saints defeated the Cobras for the second time in four days to complete a sweep of the scheduled best-of-three title series.
Dionisio, who was also voted as back-to-back MVP, finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds for the Saints, who also defeated the Cobras, 101-79, in Game 1 last Monday.
Mythical Team Member Hallare added 20 points, while “King of the Boards” winner Pare contributed 19 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.
“Thank You Lord. Salamat din asa lahat ng nagdasal at sumuporta. Inaalay ko po ang game na ito para sa inyong lahat. Congratulations players. Good job,” said st. Clare coach Jino Manansala after the game.
NAASCU president Dr Ernesto Jay Adalem of St. Clare also personally congratulated the team.
Adalem was widely credited for St. Clare’s rise starting in 2012 when he brought in Manansala as Saints’ coach following the withdrawal of University of Manila.
St. Clare bagged its first-ever NAASCU title by beating Centro Escolar University in a two-game sweep in 2012, finished runner-up to CEU from 2013-2015 and repeated as champion with a 2-1 series win over Our Lady of Fatima University last year.
With the win, St. Clare also became only the third team after UM and CEU to win three titles or more in league’s 17 years.
Manansala, who was also voted as “Best Coach”, also tied CEU coach Egay Macaraya as the second winningest coach with three titles behind the five of UM coach Ato Tolentino.
NAASCU commissioner Pido Jarencio awarded the trophies, assisted by deputy commissioner Eddie Laure.
Sharing the limelight was Our Lady of Fatima, which outsteadied St. Clare, 83-79, to wrest the junior title.
The Baby Phoenix swept the Junior Saints, 2-0.
In the women’s division, defending champion Rizal Technological University defeated Enderun College, 77-74, to even their best-of-three series at 1-1.
Jeremiah Yonzon scattered 24 points, including 4-of-8 shooting from the three-point area.
Jessa May Bellcena added 13 points with four three-pointers.
Ella Rodriguez finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds and Mary Grace Calang added 19 points for Enderun, which beat RTU, 74-65, also last Monday.
First game (W)
RTU (77) - Yonzon 24, Bellcena 13, Canales 10, Castillano 7, Dionisio 6, Mier 6, Mantos 4, Ayhon 4, Ybañez 2, Faraon 1.
Enderun (74) - Rodriguez 20, Calang 19, Pangilinan 14, Manzanares 13, Marcos 3, Pumaren 3, Gonzalez 2, Callangan 0.
Quarterscores: 14-12, 32-39, 49-60, 77-74
Second game (S)
St. Clare (98) - Dionisio 20, Hallare 20, Pare 19, Palencia 12, Mendoza 10, Rebugio 6, Rubio 5, Alcober 4, Puspus 2.
De Ocampo (83) - Caranguian 19, Sabasaje 15, Atabay 10, Clarito 9, Gallardo 9, Guttierrez 5, Dela Cruz 4, Ramos 4, Manalang 2, Cañeles 2, Montojo 2, Fabro 2
Quarterscores: 22-16, 45-34, 71-56, 98-83.