Defending champion West Negros University Mustangs gained back their deadly form as they dealt the University of St. La Salle Stingers an 88-74 blow to avenge their round loss in NOPSSCEA collegiate basketball at the WNU Gym last night.
With crowd attendance estimated at 3,000 at the WNU Gym, the Mustangs held off the Stingers to exact revenge after the 80-84 loss in the first round.
“We made some adjustments and we were able to anticipate the kind of game the Stingers will play tonight,” Mustangs head coach Troy Sarabia said.
While it is too early yet to forecast a WNU vs. USLS final showdown in the championship, Sarabia said they will continue improving their game.
Stingers’ coach Eugene Opuan, meanwhile said his players were a bit lethargic from the recent school activities and were not able to focus well in the game.
Major adjustments on their side are needed and they will be more prepared in their next encounter with the Mustangs, coach Opuan added.
The large crowd at the WNU Gym showed the renewed interest of the public in local collegiate basketball, NOPSSCEA basketball tournament manager and WNU Sports Office director Tony Agustin said.
He noted that the first encounter between WNU and USLS also packed the Gym with cheering students and basketball supporters.
Led by Filipino-American Jonathan Evangelista, who finished the game with 19 points, the Mustangs asserted their dominance against the Stingers and established an early lead in the first quarter, 17-13.
With Evangelista and Michael Macon controlling the boards and grabbing rebounds from both sides of the court, the Mustangs built a 44-33 halftime lead as the Stingers failed to convert their shots and had a hard time breaking through the tight defense.
Early part of the third quarter remained an all-Mustangs show as Rolly Jaca and Santiago Rapiz begun hitting from the three-point arc while Rashmor Catalino and Jay-R Agudelo as the lead ballooned to 20 points at 57-37.
Still, the Stingers continued to challenge the Mustangs’ supremacy and managed to cut the deficit to 11 points at 63-52 with a couple of three-point plays orchestrated by rookie Harvey Eslawa.
Trying to hold off the late rally from the USLS side, Evangelista once again asserted his presence inside the pain with back-to-back baskets. The game was momentarily halted with 1:05 left in the clock due to a brief resulting to technical fouls called on USLS’ Marlonie Gonzales, Evangelista and the WNU bench.
The third quarter ended with both teams scoring an identical 19 points, with the Mustangs keeping the lead at 63-52.
In the payoff period, the Stingers tried to recover some lost ground but the Mustangs kept their tight hold on the lead and took care of every ball possession to secure victory.
Jaca and Catalino finished the game with 16 points each, while Rapiz added 9 points and Macon and Agudelo with 8 points apiece.
Gonzales led the Stingers with 14 points, Scott Salvacion delivered 13 points, and Gelasan chipped in 8 points.*NAB
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