CALVIN Abueva and Ronald Pascual boosted their stocks for the upcoming PBA draft as the duo came up big in San Sebastian's rousing 80-71 win over defending champion San Beda Monday night in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
In a rematch of last year’s Finals, the Stags outdueled the Red Lions this time as they drew stellar performances from two-third of the team's so-called `Big Three.'
Abueva, projected to be picked not lower than third overall by scouts, once again flirted with triple-double numbers, coming up with 21 points, 21 boards, and nine assists, while Pascual torched the net anew with 28 points, built on seven triples, as the Stags gained a share of the lead with Jose Rizal University at 7-2.
The looming Rookie Draft served as motivation for the prolific duo, who came up big in the biggest game this season for San Sebastian, which recovered mightily from a shock 54-61 defeat at the hands of Mapua last week.
“There are many distractions including the Draft, but I told them that they still have an obligation to our school,” Stags coach Topex Robinson said.
The entire Alaska coaching staff led by head mentor Luigi Trillo and new team consultant Sean Chambers, watched the game from the gallery section, obviously setting their sights on both Abueva and Pascual. The Aces own the no. 2 pick in this Sunday’s Draft.
Ian Sangalang, who’s expected to carry the leadership mantle once Abueva and Pascual turn pro, was a point away from a double-double with nine points and 10 caroms. The 6-foot-6 slotman is still recovering from a strained left knee.
Pascual, who also had five boards and three assists, waxed hot early to outscore the entire San Beda squad in the first quarter alone, firing 17 points to help the Stags establish a 32-15 lead at the end of the period.
Trailing their biggest at 22-44 late in the second, the Lions made things interesting in the third as they roared back to cut the lead to a solitary point, 58-59, heading into the payoff period.
But the defending champions could not sustain the rally and lost for just the second time in eight outings.
“I told them not to be surprised and not panic,” Robinson said. “We just made shots down the wire and made crucial stops.”
SAN SEBASTIAN (80) -- Pascual 28, Abueva 21, Maiquez 11, Sangalang 9, Dela Cruz 4, Antipuesto 3, Rebollos 2, Juico 2, Binuya 0, Miranda 0, Balucanag 0
SAN BEDA (71) -- Caram 17, Amer 14, Pascual J. 10, Pascual K. 8, Mendoza 6, Lim 6, Dela Rosa 6, Adeogun 4, Dela Cruz 0, Koga 0
Quarterscores 32-15, 46-31, 59-58, 80-71