By Jerome Lagunzad
(Olivarez College gym)
12 noon. – CDSL vs Olivarez
2 p.m. – UB vs Diliman College
Diliman College’s touted import Adama Diakhite is really worth the hype.
The 6-foot-9 Senagalese center proved he’s as good as advertised yesterday when he led the Blue Dragons to a come-from-behind 67-65 victory over Technological Institute of the Philippines for an auspicious start in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 2 at the Olivarez College gym in Sucat, Parañaque City.
Diakhite, only 19 years old, took charge in the final frame where he rifled in 17 of his game-high 33 markers, highlighted by the eventual game-winning turnaround hook shot with 20.1 seconds left.
Diliman College gained a share of the early lead with opening day winners, Bulacan State University and inaugural champion Centro Escolar University.
“It was a very tough game. Good thing, Adama saved the day for us,” said a visibly relieved Blue Dragons coach Rensy Bajar, who also got 16 rebounds and four blocks – both game-highs – from Diakhite.
Diliman College’s veteran guard Rickson Gerero tallied 19 points while Joseph Brutas added eight markers.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Engineers, who led by as many as 10 points thrice, the last at 63-53 with under five minutes left, only to crumble in the face of the Diakhite-led Blue Dragons’ rally.
“As I expected, the opening game is always difficult since most of the players are very excited and somewhat tentative. Hopefully my players can make the necessary adjustments next game,” added Bajar.
Second-stringer Sean Karl Mallari had 13 points while starter Kevin Lara added 12 points in a losing cause for TIP.
Diliman College 67 – Diakhite 33, Gerero 19, Brutas 8, Bauzon 3, Ligon 2, Chavenia 1, Mondala 1, Corpuz 0, Darang 0, Handag 0, Mbiya 0, Salazar 0, Sombero, 0.
TIP 65 – Mallari 13, Lara 12, Daguro 9, Napoles 6, Primo 6, Manalang 4, Palisoc 4, Quiambao 3, latu 2, Ramos 2, Soriano 2, Tan 2, Jimenez 0, Limpiada 0.
Quarterscores: 15-10, 28-31, 42-49, 67-65.