Nervy start for Blue Royals; Golden Lions, Blazing Phoenix triumph in ISAA Season 15 opener

By Ricky Manliguis

MANILA--Defending three-peat champions La Consolacion College-Manila and five other teams shared the spotlight with contrasting wins to formally open the Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association (ISAA) Season 15 basketball tournament Thursday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.

The Blue Royals banked on the scoring outburst of Christian Alonzo as it survived the Immaculada Concepcion College, 76-71, to kick off its campaign for a four-peat on a high.  

Alonzo, the Finals MVP the previous season, exploded for 36 points on 12-of-22 field goal shooting for LCCM with five steals, two assists, and two rebounds.

After a tentative first half, the Blue Royals instigated a blistering third-quarter surge where it outscored ICC 25-14 to go into the final quarter leading by 12, 64-52.

But the Blue Hawks, playing back in the ISAA after a one-season break, battled in the fourth, even threatening at 70-72 on an Edrian Mark Ramirez putback with just 1:34 left in the game.

The boys of coach Kenyon Chee responded back, with Castillo powering home a layup for a 74-70 cushion the very next play.

ICC still had a chance to inch closer with 61 ticks to go, but Ramirez missed two of his three free throws off an Alonzo foul. JM Urmeneta then hit his two freebies to seal the deal.

Reigning league MVP Urmeneta provided ample help for Alonzo, churning in a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Kenneth Castillo had 11 for LCCM.

 Alfred Joseph Flores led the ICC offensive with 19 points, with Ramirez adding 18 with six boards and four steals.

Golden Lions strike, tame Blue Dragons

Treston International College also began its ISAA sojourn with a victory, fending off a gritty ICCT Colleges squad for a 72-70 squeaker.

The Golden Lions bucked a tentative start, all while taking advantage of the Blue Dragons’ rash of turnovers en route to its first win of the season.

Rasheen Jose was a house on fire for Treston as he registered a game-best 23 points on an efficient 8-of-12 (66.7%) field goals, while Benjamin Sy and Eugene Tan issued 16 and 11, respectively for the last season’s third placers.

ICCT, losing finalists last year, had a dream start with a 25-23 first-quarter lead, but still couldn’t shake off its first-game jitters. Its 31 turnovers also proved costly in the match.

Jun Reign Baculio and Jon Aldrick Arimado were the only ICCT double-figure scorers with 22 and 16 points in that order. Mark Angelo Magno, Mythical Team member, was limited to just a bucket.

Blazing Phoenix escape tough Dragons

Season 15 hosts Air Link International Aviation College crawled back from several double-digit deficits to ward off the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Dragons, 74-71.

Down by as much as 16 points in the first half, the boys of coach Chris Cantonjos hit the biggest shots when it mattered most, none bigger than the Gabby Faisan lay-up in transition to grab a 72-71 lead with just 23.7 seconds.

That proved to be the killer blow for the Blazing Phoenix, as UA&P failed to convert in the ensuing plays.

Jovi Manlapig scored 19 points as ALIAC outscored UA&P, 40-24, in the second half, despite shooting just 42% from the floor (24-of-56). Sebastian Dominic Santiago then added 16 markers, while Faisan cashed in 13.

Cantonjos, however, stressed after the game that he would rather see the Phoenix dominate it from the get-go instead of needing to pull off a late rally to steal the win.

"Sabi nga namin, 'Hindi niyo kailangang i-underestimate yung mga kalaban. Although nanalo tayo dyan, hindi tayo pwedeng mag-relax," Cantonjos said.

Rookie Val Mercado paced UA&P with a game-high 25 points and five rebounds, while Travis Batino issued 20.

Seahorses return with blowout win

PATTS School of Aeronautics announced its return to the ISAA in convincing fashion, pummeling fellow returnee Saint Dominic School of Asia, 68-48.

The Seahorses, back in the league after missing out on Season 14, bucked a slow first quarter with a furious second-quarter attack, then kept the Pikemen at bay most of the second half to secure the victory.

Joshua Bongon and Mark Jayson Morada connived as the duo combined for 35 points for PATTS, who will next face ICC on Saturday.

Noel Josiah Cruz was the lone Pikeman in double figures with 13 points.

WCC soars high, whips PWU

In the nightcap, WCC Aeronautical and Technological College waxed hot early and was never threatened the rest of the way to hammer out a 76-60 thrashing of Philippine Women’s University.

Last year’s Mythical Team member Ivan Salinel once again showed his prowess, scoring 14 points for the Skyhawks in the wire-to-wire victory.

PWU was led by William Luchavez with 11 points, while Karl Mangupag and Jacob Danganan both scored 10.

Baby Royals in rousing juniors opener, thwart Baby Phoenix

In the lone offering in the juniors division, LCCM set its four-peat aspirations on the right foot after cooling off the Air Link Baby Blazing Phoenix, 83-75.

Marcus Saad torched the ALIAC defense with 26 points on an efficient 10-of-14 shooting spree while Jian Lawrence Lampert issued 19 for the Baby Blue Royals, which led by double digits for the majority of the match.

Paul Benedict Resara and Ralph Timothy Cruz led ALIAC with 16 and 13 points, respectively, in a losing effort.   

Hoops action will now shift to the La Consolacion College Blue Royals Gym in Manila on Saturday with a five-game schedule.

The Scores:

1st Game (SENIORS)

TRESTON 72 – Jose 23, Sy 16, Tan 11, Sicat 9, Yanos 4, Quibral 3, Cambi 2, Malay 2, Sarmiento 2, Abanico 0, Capistrano 0, Driz 0, Rivera 0.

ICCT 70 – Baculio 22, Arimado 16, Martinez 7, Triste 7, Mapua 6, Magtulis 4, Magno 2, Katipunan 2, Alvarado 2, Pascua 2, Hights 0, Santos 0, Reyes 0, Buban 0, Borja 0, Ducot 0.

Quarterscores: 23-25, 45-34, 57-49, 72-70. 

2nd Game (JUNIORS)

LCCM 83 – Saad 26, Lampert 19, Sarangay 16, Armendez 14, Garcia 4, De Celis 2, Lapada 2, Gumabao 0, Naluz 0, Remot 0, San Pascual 0.

ALIAC 75 – Resara 19, Cruz 16, Bulilan 12, Torrenueva 9, Manalac 9, Onella 4, Allam 3, Cos 2, Bathan 1, Lozano 0, Dalaten 0.

Quarterscores: 26-17, 51-37, 66-58, 83-75. 

3rd Game (SENIORS)

ALIAC 74 – Manlapig 19, Santiago 16, Faisan 13, Albit 10, Mangune 7, Arreza 2, Arellano 1, Inigo 0, Torres 0, Villaflor 0, Canovas 0, Candelaria 0.

UA&P 71 – Mercado 25, Batino 20, Delos Santos 13, Ang 6, Perez 5, Manansala 1, Celis 0, Castillo 0, Solis 0, Zapata 0.  

Quarterscores: 17-24, 34-47, 53-57, 74-71

4th Game (SENIORS)

LCCM 76 – Alonzo 36, Urmeneta 17, Castillo 11, Ober 6, Valenica 3, Cordano 2, Antonio 1, Villapana 0, De Sales 0, Lopez 0, Gatbonton 0, Pineda 0, Trinidad 0.  

ICC 71 – Flores 19, Ramirez 18, Vento 11, Paccarangan 3, Seniedo 7, Monares 5, Duarte 4, Omaga 2, Delos Santos 2, Grado 0, Joaquin 0.  

Quarterscores: 19-21, 39-38, 64-52, 74-71.

5th Game (SENIORS)

PATTS 68 – Bongon 21, Morada 14, Jamon 10, Wahing 7, Lopez 6, Benitez 4, Caraballos 2, Elazegui 2, Butao Jr. 2, Alvarez 0, Belgado 0, Po 0.

Saint Dominic 48 – Cruz 13, German 9, Daquioag 8, Azurin 6, Busante 4, Llagas 4, Emerciana 2, Espellogo 2, Genos 0, Rebano 0.

Quarterscores: 16-14, 39-27, 53-40, 68-48.

6th Game (SENIORS)

WCC-ATC 76 – Salinel 14, Briones 9, De Guzman 9, Reniedo 8, Cruz 7, Salvio 7, Bugarin 6, Lime 5, Encarnacion 4, Gonzales 3, Lizan 2, Rivera 2, Lampa 0, Gonzales 0, Gonzales 0.

PWU 60– Luchavez 11, Mangupag 10, Danganan 10,  Oriza 8, Lozano 7, Santelices 6, Espiritu 2, Mariano 2, Laban 2, Sangalang 2, Tuddao 0, Pedrasta 0, , Mendoza 0, Ysibido 0.

Quarterscores: 34-13, 49-34, 68-43, 76-60.

With a report from Ivan Saldajeno from San Juan City.

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