By Jerome Lagunzad
(Olivarez College gym)
12 noon – U of Batangas vs TIP
2 p.m. – Olivarez vs Lyceum-Batangas
Diliman College and Lyceum-Batangas pulled off a pair of stunners yesterday at the close of the first-round of eliminations in the Universities and Colleges Basketball League (UCBL) Season 2 at the Olivarez College gym in Sucat, Parañaque City.
The Blue Dragons made life miserable for defending champion Centro Escolar University in the second half and eked out a 59-56 victory over the erstwhile unbeaten Scorpions to force a three-way tie atop the eight-team field.
Senegalese big man Adama Diakhite muscled his way to 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks – all game-highs – but it was Joseph Brutas who stole the spotlight during a tight finish, enabling Diliman College to complete its fightback from an early 12-point lead against fast-starting CEU.
“He’s always been ready when his number is called,” said Blue Dragons coach Rensy Bajar of Brutas who came off the bench and fired a game-high-tying 17 points, including a pair of insurance free throws with seven seconds to play.
It was the fourth straight victory and sixth overall for Diliman College, tying CEU and idle Colegio de San Lorenzo in the process.
Sharing the day’s spotlight with the Blue Dragons were the Pirates who wiped out a five-point deficit with under a minute left in regulation and outgunned the Bulacan State University Gold Gears in overtime for a thrilling 114-106 win.
Bryan Buen sizzled with game-high 33 points, 19 of them coming in the stretch, while Leo Fernandez added 23 points and Rommel Saliente did a little bit of everything with 18 points, 17 assists and 11 rebounds for this season’s first triple-double to help Lyceum-Batangas notch its second straight win in seven starts.
“My players really wanted to win. They just keep on fighting and grinding it out,” said Pirates coach Dan Acero, visibly thrilled with his wards’ collective poise after trailing 91-96 with 47 seconds to play in regulation.
Reigning league MVP Dominck Fajardo and Nigerian center David Adebola combined for 38 points and 30 rebounds while Christian Necio sizzled with a team-high 24 points but they still could not prevent the Gold Gears from absorbing their sixth straight setback.
A jumper by BulSU’s Abraham Crisostomo tied things up at 104-apiece in overtime but August Lapasaran answered right back before Buen and Fernandez hit back-to-back triples to give Lyceum-Batangas an eight-point lead and a full control with 33 seconds remaining.
Lyceum-Batangas 114 — Buen 33, Fernandez 23, Saliente 18, Lapasaran 12, Villaluna 10, Villanueva 10, Axalan 6, Solitario 2, Eranes 0, Olarte 0.
BulSU 106 — Necio 24, Fajardo 20, Adebola 18, Dela Cruz 17, Crisostomo 9, M. Mendoza 7, Cristobal 5, Odoy 3, Ledesma 2, J. Mendoza 1, Enrile 0, Sellano 0, Solayao 0.
Quarters: 22-24, 48-55, 75-80, 96-96, 114-106 (OT)
Diliman College 59 — Brutas 17, Diakhite 17, Mondala 9, Darang 4, Ligon 4, Gerero 2, Salazar 2, Sombero 2, Bauzon 2, Corpuz 0, Mbiya 0.
CEU 56 — Fuentes 15, Ebondo 13, Wamar 11, Baconcon 8, Guinitaran 4, Demigaya 3, Uri 2, Arim 0, Manlangit 0, Umeanozie 0.
Quarters: 11-19, 24-36, 45-46, 59-56.