DEFENDING champion St. Clare College and De Ocampo Memorial College moved closer to a title showdown in the NAASCU Season 17 basketball tournament at the San Andres Sports Complex in Malate.
Earvin Mendoza showed the way as St. Clare brought down Colegio de San Lorenzo, 77-74, while De Ocampo overcame a near meltdown to beat St. Francis of Assisi College, 75-73, to close in on the finals.
St. Clare and De Ocampo go for the jugular on Saturday.
Mendoza hit the game-winning jump shot with two seconds left while drawing a foul from Raymart Sablan of CdSL for a 75-74 lead.
Mendoza missed the bonus free throw, but 6-foot-6 African import Mohamed Pare secured the rebound and hit another basket for the final count.
The last-second heroics by Mendoza came after Jon Gabriel of CdSL completed a three-point play off a foul by Junjie Hallare to give the Griffins a 74-71 lead with 1:01 left.
Hallare hit two free throws to put St. Clare to within 73-74 with still 34 seconds left before Jan Dominic Formento missed a three-point shot with 10 seconds remaining that opened the door for Mendoza’s heroics.
Reigning MVP Aris Dionisio topscored with 23 points on 10 of 22 shooting for St. Clare.
Hallare added 14 points, Rafael Rebugio contributed 12 points and Pare had 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Mendoza finished with four points.
CdSL import Soulemane Chabi Yo had another monster performance with 27 points and 23 rebounds in almost 36 minutes of action.
Gabriel also had a big game for the Griffins with 25 points on 9 of 18 shooting.
De Ocampo also went through the wringer against St. Francs before escaping with its ninth straight win, including seven in the elimination round and one against Philippine Merchant Marine School in the quarterfinals.
Dahrell Caranguian was the top scorer with 28 points for De Ocampo, which survived St. Francis’ late run despite going scoreless in the final 1:57 of the game.
Raymart Atabay added 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Cobras, who took a nine-point lead, 66-57, with 7:38 left and held their ground. In the face of the Doves’ strong finish.
Jhonard Clarito, the hero in De Ocampo’s 102-97 overtime win over PMMS last week, was limited to only three points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Five players, led by Ryan Chu and Ramlee Lanoy, shared scoring honors for St. Francis.
De Ocampo 75 - Caranguian 28, Atabay R. 12, Manalang 9, Fabro 7, Gallardo 5, Wenceslao 4, Clarito 3, Dela Cruz 2, Ramos 2, Montojo 2, Cañeles 1, Pacual 0.
St. Francis 73 - Larotin 11, Lanoy 11, Chu 11, Cruz 10, Arellano 7, Parcero 7, Ramos 2, Tolosa 2, Madrid 1, Cristobal 1, Derama 0.
Quarterscores: 13-16; 28-33; 54-50; 75-73.
St. Clare 77 - Dionisio 23, Hallare 14, Pare 12, Rebugio 12, Palencia 5, Mendoza 4, Rubio 3, Fuentes 2, Alcober 2, Puspus 0.
San Lorenzo 74 - Chabi Yo 27, Gabriel 25, Rojas 8, Baldevia 6, Sablan 2, Laman 2, Alvarado 2, Callano 2, Formento 0, Vargas 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18; 35-37; 55-59; 77-74.