NATIONAL College of Business and Arts endured two back-breaking sets then held on in the third to hack out a 30-28, 31-29, 25-21 victory over La Salle and clinch the fourth semifinal berth in the Spikers' Turf Season 1-Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan City over the weekend.
The Wildcats showed grace under pressure and survived the hard-fighting Archers in the extended first two sets then poured it all out in the third to complete the sweep in one-hour and 35 minutes of power game highlighted by spectacular quick sets, combination plays, and superb blocking.
But the Wildcats proved steadier at endgame of each frame with guest players Reyson Fuentes and Edwin Tolentino combining for 25 hits.
Fuentes also came through with five blocks to anchor NCBA’s solid defense upfront in the sudden death for the last Final Four slot.
John Onia fired 14 hits and guest player Michael Zamora added 10 markers while Ralph Calasin, Rocky Honrade, Cris Dumago, Mike Frey, and Levin Dimayuga combined for 23 points for the Archers.
But NCBA will face top seed Ateneo in Monday start of the semifinal round with the Wildcats colliding with a team coming off an emphatic sweep of the elims and the quarters of the league presented by PLDT Home Ultera.
Gametime is at 1 p.m. with Fuentes and Tolentino needing to further raise the level of their respective games to at least slow down the vaunted Ateneo game anchored on Marck Espejo, Ysrael Marasigan, Rex Intal, Joshua Villanueva, John Rivera and setter Joner Polvorosa.
Fuentes and Tolentino also hopes to draw solid backup from the likes of Paul Domingo, Daryl Valenzuela, Jonel Oclima, skipper Jason Canlas and playmaker Jumbo Nidua as they try to deal the Eagles their first loss in the tournament backed by Mikasa and organized by Sports Vision.
No. 2 National U, meanwhile, battles NCAA champion Emilio Aguinaldo College in the other best-of-three semis playoff at 3 p.m. with the Bulldogs out to erase the stigma of their shutout loss to the Eagles last week.
Bannered by Bryan Bagunas, Fauzi Ismail, Madzlan Gampong and Francis Saura, the Bulldogs will be going up a team boasting of the league’s leading scorer in Howard Mojica, who has rattled off 238 hits, including 198 attack points with 17 blocks and 23 aces.
The prolific EAC hitter also hopes to get support from the likes of Kerth Melliza, Israel Encina, Hariel Doguna, and the league’s leading setter Jhon Pagtalunan.
Meanwhile, the Ateneo-NCBA duel will be shown on PTV-4 starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday (Tuesday) with the NU-EAC clash to be aired on Wednesday.