|First quarter timeout: Jino Manansala rails at his boys for running away from their game plan which was to take it to the rack (they mostly settled for outside shots).|
This appears on philstar.com
These murderous Saints
by rick olivares
The St. Clare College Saints are only “saints” by nickname. On the basketball court, they’re assassins. Murderous cagers who have an appetite for demolition.
SCC rolled to their fourth successive win in the 16th season of NAASCU with a 71-54 win over the Our Lady of Fatima University Phoenix at the Rizal Technological University gym in Mandaluyong this Friday, September 2. It was a huge win as both squads headed into their Friday encounter with a pair of 3-0 slates.
After that win, quite a few NAASCU follows wondered if there was any other team that can stop this team? Enderun College? They could except that Fatima took them down as well. Philippine Christian University? We’ll have to wait for that match-up.
Previously, the Saints dispatched the AMA Computer College Titans, 82-67, during the season opener last August 25. They followed that up with a 85-62 demolition of the Philippine Merchant Marine School Mariners and an 88-65 mauling of the City University of Pasay Eagles. They are holding opponents down to 25% field goal shooting’ possibly tops in the league.
“You can say that we are hungry for a title,” said St. Clare College head coach Jino Manansala whose squad has been denied three years running for the NAASCU championship by Centro Escolar University in the title game. “We think it is our time to shine."
Power forward Aris Dionisio and shooting guard Rojay Santos carried the scoring cudgels for Manansala’s squad with 18 and 14 points respectively. This was the first match where the prolific Saints who usually find at least four players scoring in double digits somewhat stymied. It did underscore the bench depth and talent of the SCC team that is hungry for a championship.
As talented as this squad is, it is the 6’4” Dionisio who is really making waves. The Bustos, Bulacan native is averaging 16.0 points, 13.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 2.5 steals, and 4.0 block shots versus 1.2 turnovers. This despite not having any plays called for him. He just scraps and hustle for those loose balls and makes excellent cuts to the basket. He’s also got a good nose for the ball and works hard when on the floor. “He has a good attitude that makes him very coachable,” described Manansala who learned the ropes from his father, former PBA player Jimmy Manansala and from Aric Del Rosario, his coach with UST when he played towards the end of the 1990s. “And he works hard. Doesn’t complain; not even with the minutes he gets.”
That he puts up those numbers in about 20 minutes of play per outing makes it even more impressive.
It is said that National University is keen to pick up the lanky forward. Coach Jino says that he previously sent two players NU’s way but this time will not do so as he will opt to build his power base in NAASCU and help his players get into the D-League and hopefully, the PBA.
Other Saints performing well include point guard Rafael Rebugio who once played for the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers in the NCAA before jumping ship. The shifty guard is averaging 11.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.75 assists, and 1.2 steals against 2.7 turnovers. Against the Phoenix, Rebugio, who hails from Hulo, Mandaluyong, had a crowd-pleasing wrap around lay-up versus Fatima’s six-foot seven center Chris Essomba.
Shooting guard Michael De Leon is also chipping in 10.0 points per outing.
“Everyone in my team must be ready to play,” said Manansala. “I give chances to everyone. While we have players who we will depend on to score, everyone has a role to play. Given the opportunity, they too will score.”
Next up for these rampaging Saints are the Rizal Technological University Blue Thunder coached by John Edel Cardel. The former DLSU Green Archers’ squad defeated the Colegio De San Lorenzo Griffins, 82-75, behind the terrific play of its backcourt of Storm Riva and Cyrus Tabi who combined for 37 points, nine rebounds, eight rebounds, and five steals.
Both squads battle this coming Monday, September 5, at 10am at the Makati Coliseum.