St. Clare bags NAASCU title with Game 3 squeaker win against Fatima

The St. Clare Saints celebrate after winning the NAASCU championship.
By Ivan Saldajeno

MAKATI--St. Clare took home the NAASCU title after subduing Fatima, 64-62, in the deciding game of the league finals at the Makati Coliseum on Friday.

The Saints bounced back from an early fourth quarter dry spell and escaped with the win and the championship after the Phoenix's final play failed to produce a breakthrough.

After Jordan Rios converted the first shot of the fourth quarter to put St. Clare up, 50-48, Fatima held the team scoreless for nearly four minutes.

The Saints' defense, however, remained active and limited the Phoenix to only six points during the said period, rendering them scoreless for three minutes.

Steve Fongue snapped St. Clare's drought with a free throw, but Erwin Palencia quickly followed it up with five straight points before Aris Dionisio capped the 8-0 run that put the team ahead, 58-54, with 2:53 remaining.

Joven Datu scored on a triple to draw Fatima to within one, but St. Clare scored four more unanswered points to stretch its lead to five, 62-57, with 1:51 left.

After an exchange of baskets, Jerome Juanico drew the Phoenix to within two after a booming trey with 31 seconds left.

They would later force the Saints to a turnover with seven seconds for them to orchestrate their final attack.

Joseph Marquez, however, badly missed a wide-open triple from the left wing at the final buzzer, letting St. Clare escape.

Paeng Rebugio led the Saints with 16 points, three rebounds, two assists, and two steals, while Dionisio added 12 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, and one steal. They would be later named into the Mythical Five with Dionisio eventually named the season MVP.

Marquez, who also made the mythical selection, tallied 12 markers, seven boards, two dimes, and two swipes for Fatima, while Miguel Cabrera top-scored for the team with 17 markers.

Box Scores:

St. Clare 64-Rebugio 15, Dionisio 12, Rios 10, Palencia 7, Managuelod 6, Fongue 5, Santos 4, Hallare 2, Puspus 2, De Leon 0

Fatima 62-Cabrera 17, Juanico 15, Essomba 12, Marquez 12, Datu 4, Bargola 2, Albano 0, Pedrosa 0, Perea 0, Gozum 0, Canoy 0

Quarterscores: 15-22, 32-30, 48-48, 64-62

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