Calvin Abueva made a rousing return from his suspension, powering San Sebastian past College of St. Benilde, 92-72, on Monday in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.
Already disqualified from the MVP race due his unsportsmanlike act that led to his ejection against Lyceum, Abeuva’s motivation remained unwavering as he produced his third triple-double of the season for the Stags, who notched their 10th win in 13 games and moved just a half-game behind leader San Beda.
The 24-year-old Abueva, the second overall pick in this year’s PBA Draft, had 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists in a game where the Stags hardly faced resistance from the Blazers, who lost for the ninth time in 13 games.
“Nakita niya naman kung gaano kalaking tulong siya sa amin,” Stags interim coach Allan Trinidad said of Abueva, whose assist to Dexter Maiquez with eight minutes and 44 seconds to go in the fourth made his triple-double official and gave the Stags their biggest lead at 75-50.
“We made him a decoy,” Trinidad added of Abueva, whose 10-point, 10-rebound performance by halftime allowed him to focus on involving his teammates in the second half.
Sangalang, now the MVP race leader, scattered 20 points, 12 boards, and two blocks, while Pascual was on target with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, to go with seven caroms.
“Kahit nawalan na ako ng chance para mag-MVP, nabibigyan ko naman ng kumpiyansa ang mga teammates ko at binibgiayan ko sila Ian at Ronald ng assists para isa sa kanila ang mag-MVP,” Abueva said.
The Stags dominated the Blazers in the rebounding (49-37) and assists (24-13) departments.
SSC 92 – Sangalang 20, Pascual 20, Abueva 17, Gusi 11, Maiquez 10, Miranda 6, Juico 4, Antipuesto 2, Dela Cruz 2, Rebollos 0, Binuya 0
CSB 72 – Lastimosa 22, Taha 13, Grey 9, Tan 6, Ongteco 6, Altamirano 6, Sinco 4, Bartolo 2, Dela Paz 2, Deles 2, Romero 0, Maconocido 0, Garcia 0, Carlos 0
Quarterscores: 18-12, 43-28, 69-48, 92-72