SAN SEBASTIAN’s masterful display of defensive prowess — NCAA/SYNERGY/GMA NETWORK, INC.

Games Today
(Filoil EcoOil Centre)
12 p.m. — JRU vs Letran
3 p.m. — LPU vs Mapua

SAN Sebastian College (SSC) unmasked Arellano University (AU) from a title contender to a mere pretender with an emphatic 60-51 victory yesterday to launch its own championship bid in the 98th NCAA basketball tournament at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

The Stags achieved the feat with a masterful display of defensive prowess particularly in the second half when they shackled the Chiefs to just 24 points after the latter scored 27 in the first half.

So suffocating was SSC’s defense that it forced AU to 24 turnovers that resulted to 30 points, which was half of the former’s total production.

The win catapulted SSC into an early four-way logjam at the helm with Mapua, College of St. Benilde and University of Perpetual Help and, hopefully, the championship if it keeps playing impressive games like this one.

“The team gets it motivation from our defense because we believe defense wins championship,” said SSC coach Egay Macaraya.

Itchie Altamirano was the only player from SSC that finished in double figures with 10.

“All of us played our roles especially in defense,” said Mr. Altamirano, who also had four rebounds, four assists and two steals.

But the Stags didn’t need scoring that much as defense carried them through their first win.

That defense zapped the title aspirations out of AU, which came in confident after pulling the rug from under a pre-season favorite Emilio Aguinaldo College, 63-58, in Saturday’s opener at the Big Dome.

After scoring that much in that opener, the Chiefs fired only bricks and blanks on this one, no thanks to the Stags’ rock-solid defense.

Journeyman Darrel Menina, who led AU with 15 points in that win, ran into the punishing SSC wall and was held scoreless in five attempts and forced to turn the ball over thrice. — Joey Villar


SSC-R 60 — Altamirano 10, Villapando 9, Yambing 9, Felebrico 7, Cosari 6, Una 6, Sumoda 4, Are 3, Shanoda 2, Escobido 2, Desoyo 2, Suico 0

Arellano 51 — Doromal 15, Flores 12, Abastillas 8, Talampas 8, Oliva 2, Mallari 2, Tolentino 2, Sunga 2, Menina 0, Oftana 0, Mantua 0

Quarterscores: 10-12; 27-27; 50-38; 60-51