SAN  SEBASTIAN  'STAGS'  COMPLETE  CLIMB  TO  NCAA  THRONE

PHOTO AT LEFT - Coach Ato Agustin (front) and his Stags celebrate on court after winning the NCAA crown with a Game 2 win over the San Beda Red Lions. JOEY MENDOZA MANILA, Philippines]

MANILA, OCTOBER 25, 2009 (STAR) By Joey Villar - San Sebastian relied on airtight defense and on clutch-shooting by team skipper Jimbo Aquino as it dethroned three-peat champion San Beda, 76-61, to claim the 85th NCAA basketball championship before a huge crowd at the Araneta Coliseum last night.

The Stags threw a defensive blanket on the Lions, limiting them to five free throws in the final quarter as SSC completed a sweep of San Beda in their best-of-three title duel.

Aquino followed up a 24-point showing in Game One with a 16-point splurge, including 10 clutch points in the fourth quarter before being helped to the bench with a sprained ankle with over three minutes left to play.

With a 10-point cushion, the Stags started to celebrate with a little over a minute left to play.

The team and their supporters erupted in full-blown celebration after Anthony del Rio nailed a free throw ensuring the victory that gave San Sebastian its first championship in seven years.

It was San Sebastianís 12th title overall captured under the guidance of rookie coach Ato Agustin.

ďIt was a sweet win,Ē said Agustin, who joined an elite rank of coaches who emerged triumphant right in their rookie year in the league.

Losing coach Frankie Lim was the last to achieve the feat in 2007.

The Stags beat the Lions in a championship series for the third time since 1996.

Lim said thereís nothing to be ashamed of.

ďI have to give it to coach Ato (Agustin) and the Stags. They were not expected to be in the finals but they swept us out,Ē said Lim, who suffered his first finals loss after helping the Mendiola-based school win the 2007 and 2008 NCAA crowns.

Aquino was named the Finals MVP.

ďItís really, really sweet,Ē said the soft-spoken team captain, playing his fifth and last NCAA season.

Gilbert Bulawan and Ronald Pascual scattered 15 and 12 points, respectively, while John Raymundo had 11 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

Calvin Abueva, who had a monster effort in Game One with 10 points, 23 boards and five blocks, was hobbled by fouls but had five clutch points including a tip-in during a crucial run in the fourth quarter.

In juniorsí action, Letran banked on the exploits of Jarelan Tampus and Glenn Khobuntin as it spoiled a San Beda party with a pulsating 83-80 victory to force a winner-take-all game.

Tampus waxed hot with 28 points he laced with 14 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block while Khobuntin bucked an ankle strain as he churned out 22 points and 15 boards.

It was Archie Inigo, however, who made the biggest shot of the game after he drained a booming triple Ė his third in the contest Ė that shattered an 80-all deadlock with 5.8 seconds to go.

The Cubs couldnít execute in the next play, allowing the Squires to escape with the win.

Baser Amer exploded with a series-high 39 points he spiked with five caroms, five assists and two steals but committed 12 errors.

San Beda roared to a blazing 24-11 start and appeared headed to sweeping the series and handing the school its 15th straight crown.

It would have been a tribute to legendary San Beda mentor Ato Badolato, who has decided to retire this year after having steered the Cubs to 15 of their 16 championships since he took the reins 37 seasons ago. Badolato has decided to concentrate on his job as San Beda athletic director.

Earlier, Jose Rizalís John Wilson and Louie Vigil won the seasonís MVP awards.

Wilson edged San Beda American rookie Sudan Daniel for the seniors MVP plum while Vigil ran away with the highest individual plum in the high school section.

Wilson amassed average statistical points of 52.7 besting Danielís 51.3 points to become the first Bomber to win the award since Ernani Epondulan eight seasons back.

Estelito Epondulan (1990), Philip Cezar (1972), Sixto Agbay (1969) and Roel Deles (1967) were other Heavy Bombers who had emerged NCAA MVP.

Vigil was a cut above the rest in the juniorsí division. He averaged 68.2 points -- way ahead of Letranís Jarelan Tampus (60.7) and Glenn Khobuntin (59.6), teammate Joshua Saret (57.6) and San Bedaís Baser Amer (57.3).

Vigilís dominating effort was a follow-up to former teammate Keith Agovidaís MVP award last season, making it two in a row for a school that lost its Final Four games.

Wilson and Daniel led the elite Mythical Five that included Arellano Uís Giorgio Ciriacruz (43.3), San Sebastianís Calvin Abueva (42.6) and Letranís RJ Jazul (42.3).

San Sebastianís Jimbo Aquino would have been in Jazulís spot but was disqualified for a misconduct he committed in the Stagsí playoff match with the Lions Wednesday.

Daniel was also named Top Rookie and Defensive Player of the Year while Amer was Rookie of the Year and Vigil the Defensive Player of the Year in the high school section.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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