NATIONAL College of Business and Arts (NCBA) remained unbeaten after turning back Mapua, 24-26, 25-20, 26-24, 25-21, in the Spikers’ Turf Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan on Wednesday.
Guest players Edwin Tolentino and Reyson Fuentes led the attack for the Wildcats, who improved to a 2-0 slate to create a three-way logjam, on top of Group A along with National University and reigning NCAA defending champion Emilio Aguinaldo College.
Tolentino had 19 points anchored on 15 spikes, while Fuentes had six hits and six blocks for 12 points.
Mainstays Paul John Domingo and Daryl Valenzuela added 10 markers apiece as NCBA lost the opening set before sweeping the next three for the win.
Trailing by four in the final frame, 16-20, NCBA coach Jun Balubar refused to call a timeout and instead let the Wildcats resolved the puzzle themselves.
They did response with a telling 9-1 run to shut the door against the Cardinals.
“I’m so happy because the team is responding accordingly, depending sa situation,” said Balubar, who was confident enough his team can get itself out of the rut during the fourth set.
The NCBA coach added the Wildcats have been doing situational drills during practice.
“Gawa tayo ng segment na five to nothing run. Kapag hindi (nangyari), uulit-ulitin lang hanggang makuha ang gusto ko,” he added.
Those situational drills proved effective according to Balubar, as the Wildcats hardly panicked even after they trailed the Cardinals.
“Situation like that na (lamang ang kalaban), 20-16, I won’t call a timeout,” revealed Balubar. “You’ve got to be decisive on what you are going to do to get a rally and keep the score close. And then surprise them at the end of the game like defense.”
Mapua skipper Philip Bagalay had 21 points, anchored on 19 attacks, while Anjo Partiera made 11, and guest player Neil Flores added 10.
“Pinabayaan ko lang kanina ‘yung backrow attack nila na sige mawili ka, pumalo ka,” said Balubar, referring to Bagalay.
“It was designed (like that) and pagdating dun sa dulo, ok clog the defense on that backrow attacker, na ganito ang gagawin. Ginawa rin namin ‘yun sa ensayo,” he added.
The Cardinals dropped to an 0-2 card for a three-way tie with Far Eastern University and University of the East at the lower half of the standings.