THIS year’s NCAA season has been marked by an explosion of big-scoring performances by individuals, more so than in any recent season. Most teams have one talented point-maker, some teams are lucky to have two and San Sebastian is positively blessed with the 'Pinatubo Trio.'
Funny thing, the team atop the standings, San Beda, is probably the team that doesn’t have a single player averaging more than 10 ppg and doesn’t have a big time scorer this year. Coach Ronnie Magsanoc’s team doesn’t have a guy like Garvo Lanete or Ogie Menor, who at their best were good for mid-20s production outputs in the past.
Well this year, we’ve had eight 30-point performances, and four more players who finished with 29 markers, which is like close enough that we would consider them superb scoring outburst as well.
Letran’s Kevin Alas leads the way with four 30-plus outings, doing it first on opening day in the win over San Sebastian and then he had 31 in their final first-round game, a bad loss to Jose Rizal University. This past two weeks, the First Knight has been on fire, knocking in 30 against the Pirates and then a career-best and a league season-high 35 against the Blazers, the best showing by a Letran player since RJ Jazul scored 37 in 2008.
There are some similarities between the young Alas and Jazul, who was part of the first iteration of Smart Gilas. Both are point guards who do have a penchant to shoot a lot from long range. Both play the passing lanes well and get plenty of steals. And both were destined to keep banging their heads against the powerhouse Red Lions, who seemed destined to frustrate them at every turn.
But Alas, taller than Jazul by a couple of inches, is definitely the superior fastbreak finisher and penetrator. Jazul, on the other hand, is the more consistent free throw shooter and clutch shooter, which is why he plies his trade in the PBA currently as part of the Alaska Aces.
But Kevin Alas is not the only scorer burning up the NCAA hardcourt this season, since four other players have had 30-point games. Nate Matute of JRU may have cooled a bit in the last few weeks, leading to the Bombers’ unfortunate losing streak but he had back-to-back games of 29 and 30 points early this campaign and might really benefit from a good low-post threat teammate, something he hasn’t had at JRU since he was a freshman and the team had JR Sena and the late Jayson Nocom.
Another big-time bombardier is UPHSD’s Jett Vidal, who has had a 32 and a 29 this year. He is a major reason why the Altas are currently running third in the standings. He has the green light to keep shooting under coach Aric del Rosario’s scheme. Jett-sanity takes place when he goes on those incredulous hot streaks.
Ronald Pascual of San Sebastian has been off and on this past year, specially after pulling his name out of the 2012 PBA draft but he did have a 32 in the Stags’ first-round win over Lyceum. Pascual’s credentials as a scorer and shooter are unquestioned and he is certainly part of this year’s NCAA shooting gallery.
Lyceum’s Chris Cayabyab is the fifth and final member of this year’s 30-point club and while he did so during a losing effort, the primary Pirate always was a marked man so his scoring explosions are really difficult to accomplish. However, the best defense against Cayabyab seems to be academic sanctions by his own team and we may have seen the last of him in the NCAA.
Speaking of scorers, I spoke to JRU’s John Wilson, who scored 48 points in August 2009 on what it’s like to be in a zone. “Sabi ni coach, pag pumasok yung unang bitaw mo mula sa labas, sige lang ng sige. Parang ang laki ng basket,” he said.
Wilson was the best pure shooter to come out of college the last few years but it’s taking him a bit of time to establish a pro career. I guess that’s what playing behind Mark Caguioa at Ginebra does.
Going back to this year’s NCAA, honorable mention 29’s were by JRU’s Byron Villarias and SSC-R’s Calvin Abueva but the 'Beast' has been making headlines recently by posting triple-doubles in his last two outings, an altogether harder achievement. He had 17 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists against CSB and followed it up with 21 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists against Mapua. Definitely in line for a second MVP trophy had he not disqualified himself for a punching foul this season.
Everyone’s waiting for the 'Beast' to make his pro debut next month.