VICTORY. But the San Sebastian Stags won’t be celebrating their coach Egay Macaraya’s 56th birthday.
Not yet, not even after the Stags reached the stepladder semifinals of the 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball tournament after yesterday’s fourth seed playoff at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Wala pa ngayon. Kailangan namin mag-focus. Ang napag-usapan namin, after the NCAA na,” said Macaraya after the Stags put away the Letran Knights, 74-69.
The Stags, behind Michael Calisaan with a career-high 36 points and 10 rebounds, and Ryan Costelo’s 13 points, returned to the semifinals after four seasons.
They will now clash with the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers in the first round of the stepladder semifinals on Friday.
The 6’4” Calisaan knocked in his fifth of eight three-point attempts in the last 18.3 seconds, giving the Stags a 74-69 cushion in the remaining time.
His basket off Costelo’s assist came after the Knights turned the ball over off Jeo Ambohot’s bungled three-pointer.
Costelo drilled in nine points in the last canto, with his drive past Bong Quinto in the last 44.9 seconds shattering the game’s last deadlock, 71-69.
“Well, deserving yung mga bata for all the hard work na ginagawa nila,” added Macaraya after the Knights missed the semis for the third time in four seasons.
The Knights, led by Jeremiah Taladua, with 16, tied the contest off Bong Quinto’s split freebies with 1:03 left, 69-all.
In the junior division, the La Salle Greenhills Greenies drew big plays from big man Inand Fornilos in the second half to overpower the San Sebastian Staglets, 108-82.
Fornilos scored 24 points and 14 rebounds behind the top scorer Joel Cagulangan, and his efforts in the shaded lane earned the Greenies the no. 4 seeding in the Final Four.
Cagulangan unloaded 30 points, including a triple that put them in front, 56-55, at the start of the third canto.
Then, the 6’2” Fornilos, who stood his ground against Staglets big men Romel Calahat, Neil Villapando and Damie Cuntapay, struck hard twice in the last 5:13, his baskets sending the Greenies ahead by seven, 62-55.
“We made adjustments on how they attacked and scored on us, primarily on offensive rebounds and transition offense. And so, we focused on that,” said Greenies coach Marvin Bienvenida.
Romel Calahat banged in 15 points for the Staglets. He was scoreless in the fourth. Alex Desoyo knocked in 12.
Fornilos made 12 points in the last canto. Attacks from Fornilos and Cagulangan in the final 7:43 gave the Greenies a 19-point spread.
First game (juniors)
– Cagulangan 30, Fornilos 24, David 17, Mosqueda 14, Lao 6, Perez 5, Marcos 4, Sangco 4, Morales 2, Cruz 2, Pedrosa 0, Dela Cruz 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 82
– Calahat 15, Desoyo 12, Villapando 11, Cuntapay 10, Rodriguez 10, Pasamante 8, Aguilar 6, Sumoda 5, Timbancaya 3, Are 2, Umayao 0, Pelias 0, Espiritu 0, Magbanua 0, Suico 0.
21-25, 45-49, 79-65, 108-82.
Second game (seniors)
SAN SEBASTIAN STAGS 74
– Calisaan 36, Costelo 13, Ilagan 6, Navarro 6, Valdez 4, David 3, Gayosa 3, Bulanadi 2, Baetiong 1, Calma 0, Capobres 0, Mercado 0.
LETRAN KNIGHTS 69
– Taladua 16, Quinto 15, Calvo 11, Nambatac 11, Vacaro 8, Ambohot 3, Balanza 3, Balagasay 2, Mandreza 0, Gedaria 0.
18-16, 32-30, 53-54, 74-69.
(at the Arena in San Juan)
11 a.m. San Beda vs LSGH (jrs Final Four)
1 p.m. Malayan vs Letran (jrs Final Four)
3:30 p.m. San Sebastian vs JRU(srs stepladder semis)