San Sebastian finally escaped from its slump and ended its four-game skid after a 78-61 routing of Emilio Aguinaldo College in the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball tournament Friday, Oct. 14, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

San Sebastian Stags (NCAA/GMA)

Apart from snapping their losing streak, the Stags heaved a huge sigh of relief as they finished the first round on a bright note with a 3-6 record, which serves as a springboard heading into the second round which kicks off as early as Sunday, Oct. 16.

San Sebastian head coach Egay Macaraya said the victory also became an easy morale-booster for his wards as the squad overcame hardships internally after those four straight losses against the likes of Lyceum, defending champion Letran, Perpetual, and San Beda.

It took the Stags weeks to regroup and rediscover their purpose despite starting the first round at least being in the middle ground of the standings.

After a series of pep talks, San Sebastian finally delivered and played unselfish basketball against EAC, something that Macaraya is proud of as a mentor.

“Everybody wants to win. Parang nakikita namin na hindi na nagiging team ‘yong team,” recalled Macaraya as the coaching staff tried to keep the Stags uplifted amid close matches that could have given them wins instead.

“I tried to comfort them and motivate them na hindi kami mananalo if they really rely on their “self.” ‘Yong isa-isa lang, ‘yong individual because it’s a team game. Kaya ‘di nagsasabay-sabay ‘yong laro nila.”

Against the Generals on Friday, the Stags showed a total team effort as Alex Desoyo led their balanced attack with 11 points on top of three rebounds and three assists.

Jessie Sumoda and Rhinwil Yambing finished with 10 points apiece while Itchie Altamirano and Liam Concha had eight points each.

San Sebastian’s bench produced 55 points while the rest of the starters, namely Rafael Are, Kenneth Villapando, Tristan Felebrico, Ammar Cosari, and Cris Shanoda, combined for 23 points.

At the end of the day, Macaraya just wanted what he thinks would be best for the Stags, hoping that this experience would serve as a learning curve for his wards heading into the next half of the season.

“At least this will be a good example para makita nila kung ano ‘yong sinasabi ko. It was also the frustration and disappointment ng lahat dahil lahat gusto manalo,” added the San Sebastian tactician.

Source: Manila Bulletin (