THE finals of the National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Season 18 basketball tournament will feature an intriguing battle between old and new faces.
Defending champion St.Clare College swept New Era University, 78-62, while Enderun Colleges eliminated last year's finalist De Ocampo Memorial College, 92-86, to set the stage for a best-of-three title showdown starting Monday at the RTU gym.
Rojay Santos came off the bench to produce 21 points -- all from the three-point territory -- and three other mainstays scored 10 points or more for the Saints, who are gunning for an unprecedented third straight title.
Junjie Hallare added 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting and Mohamed Pare contributed 13 points and a game-high 20 rebounds for the Saints, who have now made the NAASCU finals every year since 2012.
The Caloocan-based team captured its first-ever title under NAASCU founding president Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem and coach Jino Manansala by beating Centro Escolar University in 2012. They finished runner-up to CEU for three straight years from 2013-15 and bagged two more titles against Our Lady of Fatima in 2016 and De Ocampo last year.
Jeff Comia topscored for the Hunters with 22 points despite goung scoreless in the final seven minutes for coach Adonis Tierra.
Joshua Bringas added 17 despite while battling foul trouble while Michael Akindele had eight points and 15 rebounds.
St. Clare, however, will have a new championship opponent
Enderun turned to Brando Chauca, who flirted with a triple double to complete a two-fame romo over De Ocampo.
Chauca finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists to power the Pipo Noundo-coached Titans to their biggest win of the season.
Chauca, who exploded with 35 points in Enderun's series-opening 105-86 win over De Ocampo, again sparkled with 7-of-10 three-point shooting.
St. Clare College (78)--Santos 21, Hallare 15, Pare 13, Peñaredondo 10, Palencia 9, De Leon 4, Fontanilla 3, Rubio 3, Catura 0.
New Era (62)-- Comia 22, Bringas 17, Akindele 8, Dela Cruz 4, Reyes 4, Castillo 3, De Guzman 2, Dayrit 2, Marticio 0.
Quarterscores: 17-7, 44-23, 61-44, 78-62
Enderun (92)--Chauca 29, Nuñez 12, Mariano 12, Dela Cruz 12, Maagdenberg 9, Dungan 6, Gatdula 5, Oebanda 3, Tancioco 3, Sacundo 1.
DOMC (86)--Sabasaje 20, Lescano 14, Dela Cruz 10, Pascual 7, Manalang 6, Atabay M. 6, Schwartz 6, Gallardo 4, Montojo 4, Artesano 4, Atabay R. 3, Cañeles 2.
Quarterscores: 26-24, 46-42, 71-62, 92-86.