MANILA, Philippines - MVP frontrunner Ian Sangalang shot 28 points while Calvin Abueva turned in another triple-double output as San Sebastian rallied to beat Mapua, 77-62, to move closer to the Final Four in the NCAA men's basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan yesterday.
Sangalang, who took over the lead in the MVP race following the disqualification of Abueva due to suspension, also pulled down 10 rebounds to complement with his teammate's solid all-around game as the Stags rolled to their fourth straight win and 11th overall against three defeats.
The victory, which avenged SSC's 54-61 loss to Mapua last Aug. 6, also sent the Cardinals to the brink with a 5-9 slate.
In the nightcap, Kevin Alas erupted for a career- and season-high 35 points as Letran demolished St. Benilde, 97-83, to remain in the hunt for a Final Four berth with an 8-6 card.
Alas have now scored 65 points in the last two games and his 35-point explosion was the most in the league since John Wilson scored 48 points three years ago.
The Blazers dropped to 4-10.
Abueva, Alaska’s No. 2 overall pick in the recent PBA draft, scored 21 points and posted game-highs 20 rebounds and 10 assists to record his second straight and fourth triple-double performance.
The Cardinals, with Josan Nimes on the firing end, jumped the gun on the Stags early, racing to an 18-10 lead before settling for a 32-25 cushion at the turn.
But Abueva and Sangalang turned up the heat in the third and the Stags outscored the Cards, 32-18, to wrest the lead at 57-50 heading to the last 10 minutes of play.
For a while, Nimes appeared headed to matching Abueva's performance but the top Mapua gunner slowed down in the second half, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Abueva's latest triple-double feat came after he put in a 17-point, 13-rebound and 13-assist performance in a 92-72 rout over St. Benilde last Sept. 3.
"I'm just focused on helping my team win the championship," said Abueva in Filipino.
"I just told the players to forget our loss in the first round. I kept telling them to play harder," said San Sebastian interim mentor Allan Trinidad, who thus stretched his own win run to four since he took over the job from Topex Robinson.
First Game (Srs.)
San Sebastian 77 – Sangalang 28, Abueva 21, Miranda 9, Pascual 7, Juico 6, Antipuesto 3, Dela Cruz 2, Rebullos 1, Gusi 0, Vitug 0, Maiquez 0
Mapua 62 – Nimes 17, Parala 14, G. Banal 12, Cantos 6, Brana 4, Ighalo 3, J. Banal 3, Eriobu 3, Saitanan 0, Stevens 0
Quarterscores: 10-18; 25-32; 57-50; 77-62
Second Game (Srs)
Letran 97 – Ke. Alas 35, Cortes 13, Cruz 12, Almazan 9, Lituania 7, Kr. Alas 7, Racal 6, Gabawan 6, Belorio 2, Luib 0, Olotu 0, Pantin 0, Gabriel 0, Almario 0, Cudal 0
St. Benilde 83 – Lastimosa 23, Tolentino 10, Taha 9, Deles 9, Romero 8, Altamirano 7, Bartolo 6, Grey 4, Carlos 3, Maconocido 2, Dela Paz 2, Sinco 0, Tan 0, Ongteco 0, Garcia 0
Quarterscores: 27-18; 50-34; 71-51; 97-83