MANILA, Philippines – The San Sebastian Stags booked the last ticket to the NCAA Season 95 stepladder Final Four after a dramatic 99-94 win against the also-ran Perpetual Help Altas in men's basketball at the Filoil Flying V Centre on Friday, October 18.
Allyn Bulanadi, the league’s top scorer, further solidified this distinction by dropping a career-high 44 points on a 7-of-12 shooting from downtown – the highest scoring output since Robert Bolick’s 50-point eruption for San Beda last season.
After Bulanadi eclipsed his previous career-best of 32 points off two free throws, 81-79, at the 5:25 mark, Altas guard Kim Aurin repayed the favor a minute later with a go-ahead bucket for an 82-81 edge.
However, that would be Perpetual’s last lead as Bulanadi continuously answered Aurin’s buckets with free throws off hard drives through the last two minutes. The lefty swingman then capped off his career game with a clutch three at the 1:42 mark to push the Stags up 5, 93-88.
All in all, Bulanadi tallied 15 of the Stags’ 23 points in the final frame.
Jielo Razon got the Altas within 3, 95-92, off two charities in the final minute, but Baste forward JM Calma sealed the deal with 21 seconds left after tipping home his own miss for a 97-92 advantage.
Streaky Stags guard RK Ilagan backstopped Bulanadi with 22 points as the dynamic duo accounted for 66 of the team’s 99 markers in the much-needed win.
On the other end, Edgar Charcos capped off his collegiate career with a respectable 22-point, 7-assist, 6-rebound line as Aurin added 20 markers with 10 coming in the payoff period alone.
San Sebastian’s victory came at the expense of the Mapua Cardinals, who got eliminated from contention even before the St Benilde Blazers beat them, 68-62, in the following game.
With the win, San Sebastian secured a 12-7 record, meaning Mapua lost its chance at a playoff for the 4th seed as it could go no higher than 11-8.
The Blazers then pounced as the Cardinals’ playoff dreams slipped away for a 9-9 finish to the season after a promising 5-0 start. Coincidentally, Mapua also finished 9-9 in the standings after losing their first 5 games of the season.
Yankie Haruna finished his NCAA career on a good note after leading the Blazers with 13 points and 6 rebounds. Senegalese big man Clement Leutcheu also showed up in his curtain call with an 8-marker, 15-board line.
Meanwhile, Noah Lugo paced the Cardinals at the end of their Cinderella run with 13 points while Justin Serrano and Deniel Aguirre added 11 and 10 markers, respectively, off the bench.
Finally, the season’s elimination round came to a close with the JRU Heavy Bombers eking out a 77-73 decision against host team Arellano Chiefs.
Ry Dela Rosa finished his campaign the right way with a career-high 21 points on a 7-of-14 shooting while sophomore guard Agem Miranda capped a promising year with 13 markers and 6 assists off the bench.
As JRU’s top dogs move on to a new chapter in their collegiate career, Kent Salado closed his own for Arellano with a 22-point, 7-dime, 5-board effort on a 9-of-18 shooting.
The Heavy Bombers finished 8th in the standings with a 5-13 record while the Chiefs tied the EAC Generals for last place at 4-14.
The stepladder knockout semifinals are set to begin on Tuesday, November 5 with 4th-seeded San Sebastian facing 3rd-placers Letran Knights.
The winner of that match will move on to face the two-time finalists Lyceum Pirates in another knockout match while the four-peat-seeking San Beda Red Lions patiently wait atop their outright finals spot.
San Sebastian 99 – Bulanadi 44, Ilagan 22, Capobres 10, Calma 6, Villapando 6, Calahat 6, Tero 3, Sumoda 2, Isidro 0, Cosari 0, Desoyo 0, Altamirano 0.
Perpetual 94 – Charcos 22, Aurin 20, Razon 18, Peralto 10, Adamos 8, Martel 6, Giussani 6, Sevilla 2, Tamayo 2, Lanoy 0, Cuevas 0.
Quarters: 27-18, 48-44, 76-65, 99-94
CSB 68 – Haruna 13, Leutcheu 8, Young 8, Gutang 8, Naboa 8, Flores 6, Belgica 5, Dixon 4, Mosqueda 3, Nayve 3, Lim 2, Carlos 0.
Mapua 62 – Lugo 13, Serrano 11, Aguirre 10, Bunag 9, Gonzales 7, Bonifacio 7, Victoria 3, Nocum 2, Gamboa 0, Nieles 0, Salenga 0, Jabel 0, Garcia 0.
Quarters: 22-19, 35-29, 52-44, 68-62.
JRU 77 – Dela Rosa 21, Miranda 13, Vasquez 13, Aguilar 10, Jungco 6, Arenal 4, Amores 4, Dionisio 2, Abaoag 2, Macatangay 2, Delos Santos 0.
Arellano 73 – Salado 22, Alcoriza 20, Arana 8, Concepcion 5, Santos 5, Oliva 5, Sablan 3, Espiritu 3, Bayla 2, Talampas 0.
Quarters: 13-18, 35-38, 55-56, 77-73.
xSan Beda 18-0
*San Sebastian 11-7