SAN Sebastian clicked on both ends of the floor this time to finally snap out of a long losing spell in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament with a 90-69 victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
Jamil Ortuoste showed he has fully recovered from a sprained left ankle and skipper Jovit dela Cruz finally came out of a long slump, putting on a fine offensive performance to lead the Stags, who won for the first time in four games and improved to an even 5-5 win-loss card.
The Stags, who moved to a tie with Jose Rizal University for fourth spot, also snapped the Generals’ three-game winning streak as EAC dropped to 4-6 overall.
“We just recommitted to how we were at the start of the tournament,” said Stags coach Topex Robinson, whose wards started the season on a roll, hardly missing the services of 'Pinatubo Trio' Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and Ronald Pascual, before their tailspin.
“They just responded,” he added.
Ortuoste, in only his second game back after being sidelined for two weeks, registered 27 points, while Dela Cruz had 25.
But it was the Stags’ defense that generated the offense and allowed them to pull away in the fourth quarter, eventually ending up with their second-highest scoring output this season.
“Our defense helped our offense,” said Robinson, whose team, which had been averaging less than five blocks prior to the game, came up with 14 this time.
Second-string center Mark Tano anchored the defense with six of those blocks, while Leo de Vera added four rejections that went with his 14 points built around four triples. Brad Guinto and Dela Cruz had two blocks each.
Scoreless in the first quarter, Ortuoste caught fire in the next three. He fired 11 in the payoff period, including a breakaway layup off a steal that gave the Stags their biggest lead at 87-64 with less than two minutes to go.
SSC (90) – Ortuoste 27, Dela Cruz 25, De Vera 14, Guinto 9, Tano 6, Trinidad 3, Padilla 2, Magno 2, Perez 1, Aquino 1, Rebollos 0, Balid 0
EAC (69) – Happi 16, Paguia 10, King 10, Arquero 10, Jamon 8, Onwubere 4, Hiole Manga 2, Mejos 2, Munsayac 2, Tayongtong 2, Morada 2, Monteclaro 1, Saludo 0
Quarterscores: 13-20; 43-40; 61-55; 90-69.