ALLYN Bulanadi exploded for a season-high 44 points as San Sebastian turned back University of Perpetual Help System Dalta, 99-94, to complete the semifinals cast yesterday in the NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Coach Egay Maracaya, a Stags hotshot in the 80s, was delighted to see Bulanadi blossom as one of the league's best shooters.
"In my opinion, as a scorer and a shooter, during my time, it doesn't matter if you shoot how many times as long as you are not contented. If you are free, take that shot. Don't worry about me, it is much better than a turnover," said Macaraya.
When the chips were down, San Sebastian went to Bulanadi, who shot 14-of-26 from the field, buried seven three-pointers and converted all nine attempts from the charity stripe.
Trailing by 11 entering the payoff period, the Altas uncorked a 14-1 run to grab a 79-77 advantage when the Stags turned to the hot hands of Bulanadi in the final six minutes of action, scattering 15 points.
Bulanadi's three-pointer at the 1:42 mark gave San Sebastian the needed cushion at 93-88 and never yielded the upper hand ever since.
The Stags finished the elimination round in fourth place with a 11-7 card to make a return trip to the semifinals after a one-year absence.
The uphill climb begins for the three teams vying for the other Finals berth, as the survivor of the step-ladder phase will take on four-peat seeking San Beda in the best-of-three series starting Nov. 12.
San Sebastian will face No. 3 Letran in the first step-ladder on Nov. 5, with the winner taking on second-ranked Lyceum of the Philippines University in another do-or-die match three days later.
The Red Lions jumped straight to the championship round after sweeping all their 18 games in the double-round eliminations.
Maracaya was simply glad that the Stags are back in the top four after a forgettable campaign last year.
"Alam naman nila ng hirap ng ginagawa namin," said Macaraya.
SSC-R (99) – Bulanadi 44, Ilagan 22, Capobres 10, Calma 6, Villapando 6, Calahat 6, Tero 3, Sumoda 2, Isidro 0, Cosari 0, Desoyo 0, Altamirano 0.
Perpetual (94) – Charcos 22, Aurin 20, Razon 18, Peralto 10, Adamos 8, Martel 6, Giussani 6, Sevilla 2, Tamayo 2, Lanoy 0, Cuevas 0.
Quarterscores: 27-18, 48-44, 76-65, 99-94
CSB (68) – Haruna 13, Leutcheu 8, Young 8, Gutang 8, Naboa 8, Flores 6, Belgica 5, Dixon 4, Mosqueda 3, Nayve 3, Lim 2, Carlos 0.
Mapua (62) – Lugo 13, Serrano 11, Aguirre 10, Buñag 9, Gonzales 7, Bonifacio 7, Victoria 3, Nocum 2, Gamboa 0, Nieles 0, Salenga 0, Jabel 0, Garcia 0.
Quarterscores: 22-19, 35-29, 52-44, 68-62