MANILA, Philippines -- San Sebastian College head coach Egay Macaraya is pleased with how the Golden Stags have been running so far in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament, and much of their early success can be chalked up to the veteran duo of RK Ilagan and Allyn Bulanadi.
After seeing limited minutes in their season-opening 82-51 win over Jose Rizal University last week, Bulanadi was finally unleashed against Mapua University on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Now pain-free after recovering from a shoulder injury that he suffered in the D-League, Bulanadi put up 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists in a 92-68 clobbering of Mapua. Ilagan had another superb outing, with 20 points and 8 assists.
"Well, alam naman ninyo si Allyn, ang naging problema lang naman doon is if he's 100%. You know that Allyn can do anything on the court, he can play 1 to 5 position, and he can score anytime he wants. So I guess he's a very valuable player in the team," Macaraya said of Bulanadi.
"When you look at RK, he got… eight assists," he added. "So I guess, that's the fruit of our labors, yung lahat ng mga ginagawa namin sa D-League."
So formidable was his veteran tandem that Macaraya compared them to another powerful one-two punch -- the duo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the Houston Rockets.
"RK and Allyn (are) Westbrook and Harden," he said.
That being said, the coach also issued a challenge to the prolific pair, knowing that they hold the keys to San Sebastian's success in Season 95.
"'Yun lang naman ang pakiusap ko sa dalawa eh -- please share the ball and do your thing anytime you want," said the coach.
Against the Cardinals, Bulanadi and Ilagan heeded their coach's call, and it resulted in a lopsided victory. Four other San Sebastian players scored in double figures, and they led by as much as 33 points in the win.
Bulanadi, who played just under 24 minutes and assured he felt no pain afterwards, said he and Ilagan are always ready to answer their coach's challenge.
"Kailangan naming gampanan 'yung role namin, sabi nga ni coach. Kung pwede, 'yung laro namin kanina, kailangan pa namin i-angat para makuha namin 'yung championship sa NCAA," said Bulanadi.
San Sebastian returns to action next Tuesday against Lyceum of the Philippines University.
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