DEFENDING champion St. Clare College seeks to win back-back titles in the NAASCU men’s basketball tournament when it meets De Ocampo Memorial College today (Oct. 12) at the San Andres Sports Complex in Malate, Manila.
A win by the Saints in the 10 a.m. encounter against the Cobras will enable them to complete a two-game sweep of the best-of-three title showdown and capture their third title since 2012.
Buoyed by a smashing 101-79 win over the previously unbeaten Cobras in Game 1 last Monday, the Saints vow to go for all the marbles today to become only the third team since University of Manila and Centro Escolar University to win three or more NAASCU titles since the league’s inception in 2001.
“We’ll go for it. We now have the opportunity to win back-to-back titles,” said St.Clare coach Jino Manansala, who is also hoping to join CEU coach Egay Macaraya as the second winningest coach in NAASCU with three titles.
Manansala steered the Saints to their first-ever NAASCU title with a two-game sweep of CEU in 2012, the same year he was taken in by NAASCU president Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem following UM’s withdrawal from the league.
Last year, Manansala piloted St. Clare to its second title with a 2-1 win over Our Lady of Fatima University in their best-of-three series.
Expected to lead St. Clare anew are reigning NAASCU MVP Aris Dionisio, Junjie Hallare, Paeng Rebugio and Republic of Mali standout Mohamed Pare.
Dionisio, the Saint’s undisputed leader on both ends of the floor, was his usual dominant self with 27 points on 12-of-17 shooting, and 13 rebounds in the series-opening victory by the Caloocan-based team.
Hallare, Rebugio and Pare provided a strong supporting cast with 45 points to underscore St. Clare’s balanced firepower.
De Ocampo, however, hopes to bounce back with a victory today and extend the series to a deciding third frame.
The Ronnie Dojillo-mentored Cobras finished unbeaten in nine games in the elimination and semifinal rounds before losing to the Saints.
The Cobras hope to finally get consistent numbers from Dahrrel Caranguian, Jhonard Clarito, Igi Boy Sabasaje, Raymart Atabay and Redel Fabro to prevent being swept in the finals in their second year in the league.
Our Lady of Fatima and Enderun College also hope to complete a two-game sweep in the junior and women’s divisions against St. Clare and Rizal Technological University, respectively.
OLFU subdued St. Clare, 86-83, behind the hot hands of Danzel James Gomez and Nikko Polo Panganiban.
Gomez fired 22 points and Panganiban added 20 points for the Baby Phoenix of coach Ralph Emerson Rivera.
Enderun relied on the trio of Shaina Kate Marcos, Joylyn Pangilinan and Abi Manzanares to subdue RTU, 74-65, and move within a win of retaining the title.
The Haydee Ong-coached Lady Titans won their first title also against the Lady Thunder last year.