IT ONLY took Communication Arts (CA) one day to secure itself atop bracket A of this year’s Athena Cup men’s basketball tourney after posting back-to-back wins against the teams of Legal Management (LegMa) and Journalism last Feb. 16 at the Felix Huertas Court.
CA’s Kiko Banal exploded with season-high 19 points, while Nicko Bahia and Max Mercado delivered in the payoff period to edge LegMa, 65-59.
LegMa managed to take a one-point lead in the final three minutes of the play, 55-54. However, Bahia drove hard to the bucket for a clutch layup, taking the lead back to CA, 56-54.
CA tightened its defense and allowed LegMa to score only four points in the last two minutes of play. With little time left and CA leading by two possessions, LegMa was forced to give up intentional fouls to stop the clock, in which CA knocked down seven free throws to extend its lead to two possessions and secure its first win.
During the afternoon showdown, CA dominated the boards and the low block, as it pumped 26 points in the paint and corralled 11 offensive rebounds as the players kept Journalism at bay, 48-34.
CA’s Prince Marcos and Joshua Nacua accounted for more than half of the team’s scoring output as they dropped 30 points combined, while Journalism veterans Miguel De Leon and Delfin Dioquino only scored a total of 13 points.
CA pulled away in the third period as it outscored Journalism by 16 points and ended the quarter with a double-digit lead, 43-26. The two teams struggled to find the bottom of the net in the final period with CA adding just five points and Journalism dropping only eight points.
Meanwhile, defending champions Philosophy blew Literature out of the water in their season opener, 66-39.
Philosophy widened the gap to 20 points during the early period of the second half as Ken Pangilinan dished out a threading pass to Jericho Abesamis, closing the quarter in a high note at 44-24.
Philosophy continued to show its court dominance scoring 22 points compared to Literature’s 15 in the payoff period.
Meanwhile, Political Science (PolSci) hammered out a huge 16-to-nothing run in the third quarter for a 59-49 drubbing of bracket B rival, Sociology, casting doubts to the playoff contention of the cagers in green.
Anton Maglaqui dominated the low block, as the towering center dropped 25 points that went with five offensive rebounds and two steals, while Kenneth Bataclan provided a lift with his double-digit scoring with 10 points. Almer Ang contributed with three bombs from beyond.
It was back-and-forth high noon match as the two teams were separated by just seven points by halftime, but PolSci barred Sociology from putting the leather in the basket in the last five minutes of the third quarter, resulting to a 22-point advantage before the final period, 48-26.
Butailon was slapped with an unsportsmanlike foul after he threw an elbow to the back of pesky defender Karl Villapando. Under the Athena Cup rules, Bataclan has to sit in the bench for two minutes. It was then Sociology barreled its way inside and forced a 9-to-nothing run, cutting the deficit to single digits, 51-42.
However, time was not on Sociology’s side with 1:44 left in the game.
Maglaqui snatched the ball with less than 30 seconds left and made a layup that pushed the lead to double-digits 59-49, with 20 ticks remaining in the clock.
On the other hand, Economics got a huge lift from Raphael Gubaton to put away an unrelenting Asian Studies, 60-49, in their first game in bracket D.
Gubaton was a threat from all-around the court as he dropped 18 points that went with two rebounds, while Karl Deocadiz listed double-digits scoring with 10 points.
Economics forced two quick steals in the final period and opened up an 18-point lead. A three-pointer from Micheal Carino broke the silence for Asian Studies.
Both teams tallied 11 points in the final quarter, but Economics had already built a double-digit cushion to usher the team to victory.
Behavioral Science (BES) and Literature continued the final quarter of their Valentine’s Day game after it was cut short due to time and venue constraints.
BES emerged as victors as the team blew its bracket C rivals, 87-46 and posted the highest points by a single team in this season and having four of its players tallying double-digit scoring.
Von Lapid had 18 points, Raphael Esguerra dropped 17 points, while Rodolfo Duterte and Joaquin Gangoso added 12 points each.
The elimination rounds will resume with bracket C duel between BES and Philosophy at 3 p.m. and bracket B rubber match between History and PolSci at 4 p.m. on Feb 20. F DONN CLARENZE D. GONZALES and VANN MARLO M. VILLEGAS