By Jerome Lagunzad
Game Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
4 p.m. – NU vs LSGH
UAAP powerhouse National University proved too classy for Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu and scored an impressive 71-47 victory last night to forge what could be explosive clash with NCAA champion La Salle-Greenhills for the 2018 Exped SM-National Basketball Training Center National Finals crown.
Gerry Abadiano finished with a team-high 23 points while Batang Gilas standout Terrence Fortea added 17 points off the bench but it was the Bullpups’ suffocating defense that spelled the difference in sending the Magis Eagles crashing back to earth.
“Na-control namin ‘yung mga shooters nila and we did a better job on their ball-screens. I think ‘yung depensa talaga namin ang nagdala,” said NU coach Goldwin Monteverde, whose wards held their rivals to just 19 points after the turn.
With the victory, the Bullpups earned the right to face the equally determined Greenies in a winner-take-all showdown today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Spitfire guard Joel Cagulangan sizzled with a game-high 25 points while Jacob Lao drilled in nine of his 17 points in their decisive run in the third quarter where La Salle-Greenhills pulled away from Chiang Kai Shek College for an 81-64 win.
McCoy Marcos, who has already committed to University of Santo Tomas in the seniors ranks, collected 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists while big man Inand Fornillos anchored the lane with 13 rebounds and six blocks on top of nine points to help the Greenies’ cause.
Eroll Pastor finished with 14 points but no other teammate scored in double figures as Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu apparently ran out of gas after pulling off a gigantic 72-70 quarterfinal win over reigning UAAP champion Ateneo the other day.
Big man Evan Agbong had a monster performance of 11 points and 19 rebounds but top gunner John Galinato struggled from the field, making just five of his 25 attempts to finish with 15 points, as the Blue Dragons’ usual fluid attack sputtered against the Greenies’ swarming defense.
Meanwhile, La Salle’s snipers showed up locked and loaded from beyond the arc, with Cagulangan drilling in six of his 10 tries, Lao swishing through all of his five attempts and Marcos adding three in their 15 total conversion.
The Greenies’ offensive juggernaut proved just too much for the Blue Dragons, who trailed by just three at 29-32 at the break but struggled to find any response in that big third-quarter surge where they allowed 26 points.