It took awhile, but when the San Sebastian Stags finally put their foot down on the necks of the Arellano Chiefs, the result was a brilliant, high-scoring affair that saw big performances from the main guys of last season's runners-up. The Stags started the game 22-12 after the first quarter, shrugging off some comeback tries to get to 47-34 in the third period. However, Andrian Celada capped off an Arellano rally with a triple that got them to 49-43 with four minutes to go in the quarter. Then with 31 seconds left, Rocky Acidre scored to make it 57-54. That was a close as they got though, as the Stags unleashed their full transition game, scoring on outlet passes directly from the rebounder, to arrive at the final score, 92-79. The highlight of the Stags was Calvin Abueva's triple-double: 18 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, the first and so far only triple-double this season. (Recap here)
What's at Stake:
- The 4-7 Arellano Chiefs are just a game and a half behind the 5-5 Lyceum Pirates who currently hold the number four seed. A win against the best team not only gives them upward movement in the standings, the morale boost would be extraordinary, as will opening the door to other teams believing they can take down the top two teams, causing a possible large shift in the standings. It is also important to note that this is the first of two games that head coach Leo Isaac will miss as he is currently in the U.S. on a scouting trip.
- At 10-0, the Stags would like to stay perfect, and after a long break, ought to be in game mode right from the opening tip.
AU Player to Watch : Mark Doligon had his breakout game against the Stags, playing double digit minutes for the first time all season, rewarding his coach's belief in him with a team-high 17 points. Since then he's been a consistent contributor to the squad, both as a starter and as a reserve. It would be a nice case of symmetry if he can come up big against San Sebastian once more.
SSCR Player to Watch : Reserve guard Lyle Antipuesto is the Stags' best three-point shooter, making 8 of his 15 long-range shots so far this season. Antipuesto had a cameo role, just four minutes, in the first round meeting between these two teams but with head coach Topex Robinson looking to give his reserves more minutes to build their confidence, he could get the nod against the zone.
Prediction: SSCR Stags