CRUCIAL free throws from RK Ilagan, Jerrick Balanza, and Clint Doliguez completed Team Saints’ 18-point comeback to edge Team Heroes, 113-111, and rule the NCAA Season 95 All-Star Game on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Saints stormed back from an 82-100 deficit with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter as they unleashed a 24-6 run, capped by Ilagan’s back-to-back triples, to tie the game at 106 with 2:31 to go.
Newly crowned champion from Letran Jerrick Balanza put Saints ahead hitting three of his four freethrow attempts for a 111-108 breather with 28.8 seconds to go.
However, Arellano standout Jio Jalalon kept the Heroes within one, 110-111, before Doliguez split his free throws to make it a two-point game, 110-112. Kent Salado had a chance to tie the match after drawing a foul but he only sank one of his two charities, 111-112.
Ilagan was fouled with 8.9 ticks to go but he split his freethrows, which was enough for the Saints to beat the Heroes as Salado missed the potential game-winning three.
“Nagenjoy lang yung mga bata doon sa game. Last five minutes medyo nanaig na rin yung pride ng bawat isa,” said Saints assistant coach Rensi Bajar speaking for Bonnie Tan who had to leave early due to prior commitment. “They keep on enjoying but at the same time gusto rin nila manalo.”
“Nakapagbigay tayo ng saya sa mga fans at the same time yung mga dating players naibabalik nila yung college spirit and nakita nila ulit yung mga dati nilang kaklase. Malaking bagay sa NCAA to,” he added.
Balanza capped his NCAA career with an All-Star MVP finishing with 14 points, four rebounds and two assists. Perpetual Help’s Ben Adamos had 18 points and nine rebounds, while former St. Benilde cager Aaron Umlas added nine markers.
Doliguez chipped in nine points and five rebounds. Edgar Charcos had eight markers, while Ilagan and former Letran star Rey Nambatac were also instrumental with seven apiece.
It was the third straight season that the Saints beat the Heroes since the new format of the all-star game in 2017.
Team Heroes leaned on Justine Arana and JV Marcelino, who delivered 22 points apiece. Jalalon returned to the NCAA stage with 14 points, nine assists, four rebounds and three steals, while Jaycee Marcelino and Arvin Gamboa added 12 and 10 markers, respectively.
SAINTS 113 - Adamos 18, Balanza 14, Umlas 11, Doliguez 9, Charcos 8, Ilagan 7, Nambatac 7, Batiller 6, Capobres 6, Alano 6, Naboa 5, Soberano 5, Baluyot 4, Gutang 4, Koga 3.
HEROES 111 - Arana 22, Jv. Marcelino 22, Jalalon 14, Jc. Marcelino 12, Gamboa 10, Maguliano 8, Miranda 7, Onwubere 5, Mendoza 5, Dela Rosa 3, Salado 3, Lugo 0.
Quarters: 26-35, 47-62, 75-92, 113-111.