NCAA upends UAAP!

In a showdown between the two of the nation’s top collegiate leagues, the NCAA All-Stars avenged its loss against the UAAP All-Stars last year winning 83-78 in the 2007 UAAP-NCAA Bantay Bata 163 All-Star game. Last year, the UAAP All-Stars won over its NCAA counterparts, curiously with the same score 83-78.

Sam Ekwe (San Beda) was a big factor in the win, scoring the last six points for the NCAA, including the go-ahead 79-77 with 1:11 left on the clock after Mark Borboran’s (UE) three-pointer tied the game earlier. He had a nice block on Borboran in the ensuing play and scored on a follow-up to pad the lead to four, 81-77 with 42.6 left. After Borboran hit one of two free throws, Ekwe canned in two charities with 4.1 seconds to provide the final count.

The UAAP All-Stars played without 2007 UAAP MVP Jervy Cruz (UST), and gunners Patrick Cabahug (Adamson) and Jonathan Fernandez (NU) who were all training with the Harbour Centre-backed Philippine team in South Korea. The NCAA All-Stars are also without the 6-4 Yousif Aljamal (San Beda), who is now with Talk N Text.

Coach Franz Pumaren (DLSU) leaned on Ford Arao (Ateneo), Rico Maierhoffer (DLSU), and Edwin Asoro (NU) who took turns in igniting a 19-10 run by the UAAP All-Stars to give the team its biggest lead at 14 points, 41-27, which they preserved until the end of the half 49-35.

The second half was a complete turnaround as the NCAA All-Stars (coached by San Beda’s Frankie Lim) mounted a furious rally behind the hot shooting of RJ Jazul (Letran), who was later named the MVP of the All-Star game and Ogie Menor (San Beda) . Jazul fired 11 of his 23 points in the third quarter mostly on the perimeter to overcome a 10-point deficit at the half and tie the game 57-57 with 3:26 left in the quarter. Menor was also super hot, scoring 16 of his 22 points in the same period to give the NCAA the lead for good 65-60.

JV Casio (DLSU) had three triples to pull the UAAP within two, 71-69 with 6:47 to go but a five-point swing by Jazul and Menor pushed the NCAA to a six-point lead, 77-71, with 3:14 on the clock. A 6-0 run by the UAAP behind Edwin Asoro tied the game for the final time, 77-77 with 1:30 left.

In the All-Star game’s sidelights, Rey Guevarra (Letran) jumped over a seated Jazul from the left side before slamming the ball with the right hand to win the Slam Dunk championship over Sam Ekwe. The incredible maneuver by Guevarra netted him a perfect score in the final round. Casio crowned himself three-point king with a 23-point explosion in the final round to win over JR Tecson (San Beda). UP’s Vicmel Epres and Martin Reyes edged out UE’s tandem of Paul Lee and Jorel Cañizares, 45-42, to capture the 2-3 Ball competition.

It was a great game, but would it have had a different ending if the likes of Jervy Cruz, Patrick Cabahug, Jonathan Fernandez and Yousif Aljamal played for their respective teams? It was not as exciting as the previous year but it was still worth watching. Till next year.