SPEEDY playmaker RK Ilagan proved to be the perfect partner for San Sebastian College gunner Allyn Bulanadi anew yesterday.
The Golden Stags foiled the upset axe wielded by the hard-fighting Arellano University Chiefs, carving out a nail-biting 85-82 victory to get back on track and boost their bid for the last Final Four slot in the 95th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Ilagan led San Sebastian with 20 points, eight of them coming in the fourth quarter, on top of six rebounds and three assists to complement Bulanadi, who wound up with 19 markers, eight boards, and six dimes.
JM Calma, Alvin Capobres, who left the game for good at the 5:25 mark of the fourth quarter due to a sprained right ankle, and Kenneth Villapando also chipped in 15, 15, and 12 markers, respectively as the Stags hiked their record to 10-7 and assured themselves of at least a playoff for No. 4 and handed also-ran Arellano its 13th loss against four wins.
The victory also eliminated College of St. Benilde from semis contention.
In the other game, Mapua University nipped another eliminated team in Perpetual Help 85-81 for its second straight win and kept its semis hopes alive.
A Ben Adamos jumper gave the Altas a 78-75 buffer with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter but the Cardinals unleashed a decisive 10-1 windup capped by a Noah Lugo free throw that made it 85-79 in the last 10.4 ticks seconds.
Adamos would score on a short stab that pegged the final count, only 2.9 ticks left.
Warren Bonifacio scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds for Mapua while Laurenz Victoria added 14 markers and four caroms.