The West Negros University Mustangs needed an overtime to tame the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos Rams, 97-91, and kept their dominance over the three other collegiate teams in the 1st LNA7 Collegiate Invitational Basketball Tournament yesterday at the WNU Gym.
Led by Rushmore Catalino with 24 points, the NOPSSCEA defending champions capitalized on their experience to turn back the Rams in extra time as they scored five straight unanswered baskets after regulation ended at 80-all.
Relentlessly pursuing the Mustangs in the final minutes after trailing by 12 points at halftime, 39-27, the Rams closed the gap and cut the lead to a point, 79-78, on a Joemel Paderog’s triple with 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Errol Doromal, who was fouled with 11 seconds left, split his charities for a two-point WNU lead, giving Paderog enough time to score on a jumper to send the game into overtime.
“It was a good game and UNO-R played very well,” Mustangs head coach Troy Sarabia said, adding that they need to make some adjustments before the NOPSSCEA regular season starts end of this month.
“We also need to refine our game plan as all the three other teams proved to be tough opponents for us in this tournament,” Sarabia added.
Backing up Catalino in the scoring department was Doromal, who finished with 13 points, while Jeramer Cabanag and rookie Renz Solomon had 11 points each.
Kervie Andrada, who helped the Mustangs in thwarting the end-game rally of the Rams by delivering clutch baskets, scored 10 points while JV Veloso tallied nine points.
The Rams, who earned the right to challenge the Mustangs for the championship in the three-day tournament, was led by Cedrick Eslabon with 20 points, while Santillan, who helped Eslabon and Paderog kept the game close in the payoff period, had 17 points. Paderog tallied 16 points.
Meanwhile, the University of St. La Salle Stingers salvaged the third spot in the tournament by turning back the Colegio de San Agustin-Bacolod Eagles, 67-53.
Coach Eugene Opu-an said the team is under development but their goal in this year’s NOPSSCEA competition remains the same – to reach the finals.*NAB
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