LIFE without the 'Pinatubo Trio' doesn't seem too bad for San Sebastian.
The Stags hardly missed the services of former stars Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang, and Ronald Pascual as the team’s slew of rookies led by big revelation Jamil Ortuoste, stepped up in their absence to outlast title contender Arellano,78-76, on Thursday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Proving his debut performance was no fluke, Ortuoste pumped in 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting to lead the Stags who atoned for their 69-74 opening-day loss to Letran.
The 21-year-old Ortuoste, who had 16 points against the Knights, scored 12 of his output in the fourth quarter, highlighted by a floater late in the game that made it 75-67, a good cushion to have during a rally by the Chiefs in the final stretch.
Ortuoste, part of two San Sebastian championships in the NCAA juniors, had plenty of help from his fellow rookies.
Leo de Vera tallied 15 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and two steals, Bradwyn Guinto added 10 markers, 14 rebounds, and two blocks, while CJ Perez had an all-around game of 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three steals, and a block shot.
“I’m not surprised (with their performance) because I told them they belong in this team. It’s just a matter of giving the necessary break,” Stags coach Topex Robinson said later. “With the `Pinatubo Trio’ gone, this is an opportunity to make a name for themselves.”
“Hindi lang ako ang pwedeng mag-explode. Kahit sino sa amin pwede mag-step up,” said Ortuoste, who is making the most of his second chance after failing to suit up for Far Eastern University in college following a back injury.
The Chiefs, tagged as title contenders in the preseason, last held the lead at 61-60 early in the fourth after scoring seven unanswered points to erase a third-quarter deficit.
They tried to make one final push in the endgame but came up short in the end.
San Sebastian (78) – Ortuoste 28, De Vera 15, Dela Cruz 10, Guinto 10, Perez 10, Gusi 3, Rebollos 1, Tano 1, Magno 0.
Arellano (76) – Caperal 11, Hernandez 11, Agovida 10, Pinto 10, Salcedo 6, Jalalon 6, Forrester 6, Enriquez 5, Margallo 4, Cadavis 4, Nicholls 3, Gumaru 0, Bangga 0.
Quarterscores: 20-14; 35-39; 60-54; 78-76.