SAN Sebastian tasted its first success in the post-'Pinatubo Trio' era as it held off a game Southwestern University, 84-73, to register its first win in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
Now without Kapampangan stars Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and Ronald Pascual, the Stags turned to the remnants and their promising recruits to turn back the Cobras, who finally stood toe to toe with a Manila-based opponent only to falter in the end.
Veterans Jon Rebollos, Jovit dela Cruz, and Raffy Gusi, and rookies Leo de Vera and Jaymark Perez delivered for the Stags, who bounced back from their opening loss to Ateneo.
“We’re just trying our combinations. We all know this is what’s left of our team last year, which is a good thing for us because these are a bunch of no-namers,” Stags coach Topex Robinson said. “It’s something that we have to take pride on.”
“We’re in the best situation here. Rather than think about the crisis that we lost a lot of big names, we see this as an opportunity,” the returning mentor added.
Ahead by double digits in the middle quarters, the Stags saw the Cobras make a comeback in the fourth quarter where the Cebu-based squad cut the lead to just five after a Melvin Holper triple with six minutes and 43 seconds to go.
But Rebollos and De Vera took turns with their outside sniping in the clutch to put the outcome beyond doubt.
Rebollos, who’s in his second and last year with the Stags, finished with a game-high 20 points on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, while De Vera, the freshman from Los Angeles, California, added 18 markers, including two triples.
The Cobras avoided a blowout loss, but remained winless after four games.
SSC 84 – Rebollos 20, De Vera 18, Dela Cruz 13, Gusi 11, Perez 10, Balucanag 7, Guinto 5, Tano 0, Vergara 0, Lee 0, Magno 0
SWU 73 – Sanjo 16, Holper 15, Arong 12, Mohammed 8, Siewe 7, Pajantoy 7, Bautista 3, Panerio 3, Goloran 2, Ortega 0, Otida 0, Bregondo 0
Quarterscores: 16-16, 49-38, 68-57, 84-73