SAN Sebastian avoided a monumental meltdown this time and leaned on rookie sensation Jamil Ortuoste to escape past University of Perpetual Help, 78-77, in a thrilling overtime match in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan on Monday night.
Exactly a week after losing to Mapua in double overtime in a game where they squandered a double-deficit lead, the Stags again found themselves in almost the same situation against the Altas.
But unlike the loss to the Cardinals, the Stags found a savior in Ortuoste who bailed them out in the fourth and extra periods, respectively, to even their win-loss record to 2-2.
The loss was the first for the Altas in three outings, although the school put the game under protest on a questionable call made in the second quarter.
“As ugly as it may seem, a win is a win,” Stags coach Topex Robinson said. “If it takes us to play all those overtime games, I guess we’re ready for that.”
Ineffective in the first three quarters, Ortuoste, the unflappable playmaker from Antipolo, came alive in the fourth and extra periods, scoring 12 of his 14 points behind an array of scintillating moves.
Ortuoste scored all of the Stags’ five points in overtime, including a contested triple from way beyond the arc that gave his team a 77-73 cushion that sent the San Sebastian gallery in pandemonium.
“He was put on the spotlight again, but it was not just Jamil. It’s a total team effort,” Robinson said.
Seldom-used guard Gio Vergara provided quality minutes for San Sebastian as he fired all of his eight markers in the fourth quarter, when the Stags regained their bearings after losing grip of an 18-point halftime lead.
“We have to appreciate the effort that these guys are putting in,” Robinson said. They put themselves in a hole again, and they dug themselves out of that.”
The Stags’ resiliency negated the impressive effort of Juneric Baloria, who fired an NCAA season-high 33 points, including 12 in the third quarter where the Altas erased the huge deficit and held the lead momentarily.
San Sebastian (78) - Perez 17, De Vera 15, Ortuoste 14, Guinto 11, Vergara 8, Rebollos 6, Tano 4, Dela Cruz 3, Balucanag 0, Gusi 0, Magno 0.
Perpetual Help (77) - Baloria 33, Arboleda 15, Omorogbe 15, Alano 9, Elopre 3, Lucente 2, Oliveria 0, Dizon 0, Thompson 0, Bantayan 0, Paulino 0, Jolangcob 0.
Quarterscores: 22-12; 48-30; 56-56; 73-73 (reg); 78-77.