NEU Hunters outguns PCU Dolphins in NAASCU 18th season opener (70-64)
September 19, 2018
Wednesday, 12 September 2018
Rogelio C. Dumangas-Correspondent
Relying mainly on its aggressiveness and agility, the New Era University Hunters mustered all its might to clinch the victory over the Philippine Christian University Dolphins as the 18th season of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities kicked off Tuesday, Sept. 11 with the senior men’s basketball matchup and colorful opening ceremonies at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Behind four points in the first quarter 15-19, the Hunters rallied behind wingman Jefferson Comia and point guard Joel Plema Jr. to stage a well-oiled offense that set them running as much as ten points ahead in the second quarter and six markers in the third.
“Honestly, we are really at a disadvantaged position given our players’ relatively small composition. We obviously lacked ceiling,” said Hunters’ head coach Adonis Tierra, a veteran who also serves as one of Yeng Guiao’s deputies at NLEX. “We just anchored our game on our transition offense.”
The Quezon City-based squad closed the third quarter ahead by as much as 16 points, 61-45 but appeared to have gradually lost its grip at the start of the fourth quarter.
With poor perimeter shooting and Comia sidelined for a few minutes due to leg cramps, the Hunters struggled to keep its offense going, giving the Dolphins an opportunity to set up an energized comeback and seemed to spoil NEU’s bid for hurray at the final buzzer.
PCU—which has produced some of the sport’s current top guns in basketball stalwarts Beau Belga, Gabby Espinas and Jayson Castro—tried everything to narrow the gap by cutting the lead to four toward the dying minutes of the last quarter and grabbing a total of 60 rebounds against NEU’s 45.
The Dolphins’ best efforts were not enough, though.
“It was really close,” NEU’s assistant coach Renato Echavez Jr. disclosed. “But the most important thing is that in the end the boys were able to deliver the goods.”
Comia paced the Hunters with 24 points while Udjan Adzhar secured 12 points. Joshua John Bringas, Richfield Marticio and Joel Plema Jr. contributed six points apiece; and Robert De Guzman, Sean Jariel Astoveza, John Dexter Castillo, Nemesis Dela Cruz, and Clyde Tyrone Reyes bagged a combined score of 16.
NAASCU’s 18th season was graced by Special Assistant to the President Bong Go who delivered the inspirational remarks during the opening ceremony, as well as Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Director-General of the Bureau of Corrections.
NEU president Dr. Nilo L. Rosas, together with NAASCU Chairman Emeritus Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem of St. Clare College-Caloocan, NAASCU president Dr. Martha Ijiran of Philippine Christian University and officials of all member-teams, joined SAP Go and Director dela Rosa at the opening ceremonies.