When San Sebastian’s Allyn Bulanadi made a crucial inbound turnover in the closing seconds, Golden Stags coach Egay Macaraya hardly felt any ill feeling and kept his faith on the third-year wingman instead.
The 6-foot-2 Bulanadi repaid Macaraya’s trust by knocking down the game-winning pull-up jumper with 3.8 seconds as San Sebastian outlasted San Beda in a thrilling finish on Tuesday afternoon 72-71 to pull off another giant-killing victory in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
Bulanadi drilled in nine of his game-high 16 points in the final frame, including the cold-blooded jumper inside the arc in transition, before the Golden Stags followed it up with a big defensive stop against Red Lions in the waning moments, leading to their second straight win following an equally impressive 71-55 victory over title contender Perpetual Help last week.
“(It’s a) big victory,” said Macaraya, visibly impressed with how his wards kept their poise down the stretch. “They boys didn’t give up. I’m very happy because they are showing their character right now. They really wanted to win. We wanted it more. We’re very happy right now.”
Bulanadi, of course, could be the happiest among the Golden Stags after redeeming himself off a costly turnover during an inbound play against San Beda’s Robert Bolick, who set up teammate Davon Potts for an easy lay-up, stretching the Red Lions lead back to three with 23.7 seconds to play.
“Sinabi ko sa kanya, ‘Ball fake lang ‘yun,’” said Macaraya, recalling his quick talk with Bulanadi. “I didn’t tell him na saying ‘yung error mo. Hindi naman ako ganun. Sinabi ko lang sa kanya na sinayang mo ‘yung ball fake.”
From there, Bulanadi turned from zero to hero by knocking down a pair of freebies off a foul in the ensuing possession, keeping the Golden Stags in the thick of the fight with 11.1 seconds remaining.
Skipper Dan Sara, fouled by Baste counterpart Ryan Costelo, had the chance to put San Beda in safer grounds but he missed two important freebies, setting the stage for Bulanadi’s heroics.
Forward Michael Calisaan pumped in a double-double performance of 11 points and 10 rebounds while Alvin Capobres, RK Ilagan, Justine Mercado and Costelo did enough to help the Golden Stags sustain their uprising in the second-round of eliminations for a 3-9 mark.
Javee Mocon scattered 15 points and 10 rebounds while five other teammates tallied at least seven markers but the Red Lions sorely missed the inside presence of injured Cameroonian center Donald Tankoua, causing them to absorb just their second loss in 12 matches. – By Jerome Lagunzad
SSC-R (72) – Bulanadi 16, Capobres 13, Calisaan 11, Ilagan 9, Fabian 6, Valdez 6, Mercado 5, Costelo 2, David 2, Serajosef 2, Baetiong 0, Gayosa 0.
SBC (71) – Mocon 15, Sara 12, Adamos 11, Bolick 9, Tongco 9, Potts 7, Soberano 6, Noah 2, Alas 0, Bonsubre 0, Carlos 0, Navarro 0, Bahio 0.
Quarterscores: 13-17, 37-27, 47-58, 72-71.