NCAA: 'Dagger' Dan Arches does not let Escamis, Red Robins down

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 31, 2018 04:34 PM
'Dagger' Dan Arches does not let Escamis, Red Robins down
Thanks to breakout star Dan Arches, Mapua has not skipped a beat even with the injury to main man Clint Escamis

No longer with all of Warren Bonifacio, Mike Enriquez, Will Gozum, the spotlight shone on Clint Escamis to lead Mapua High School in the NCAA 94 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

Only, Escamis was not at full strength to lead the Red Robins in their biggest game thus far.

Still slowed down by his ailing left leg, the graduating guard was not on the floor as his team was protecting a four-point lead against modern-day rival San Beda High School in their knockout bout last Monday.

And so, another player had to step up to shoot Mapua to the Finals.

Like he had already proven many, many times in the tournament, Dan Arches was more than up to the challenge. “Wala kasi si Clint e. Kung nandyan siya, siya tumitira nang mga ganun. So kinuha ko na lang kasi nasa game plan pa rin naman siya,” he said.

With the shot clock winding down and with bigger Red Cub Tony Ynot right in front of him, Arches squared up and launched a triple try.

The ball soared through the air before falling into the net – and ultimately, transformed into a dagger that struck the heart of San Beda. “Yung confidence ko po sa sarili ko, galing po kay coach [Randy Alcantara]. Yung kumpyansa na binibigay niya, ‘di ko talaga sinasayang,” he said after the win for him and the Red Robins.

Indeed, the 18-year-old is just giving back to the head coach who discovered him in Roxas City, Capiz and then developed him in Intramuros. “Galing po akong probinsya tapos na-scout at na-recruit ni coach Randy. Tinanggap ko na po kasi sayang yung opportunity,” he shared.

He then continued, “Maraming batang gustong maglaro sa Maynila at pinapangarap maglaro sa NCAA.”

It wasn’t always this way, however, as in his rookie season a year ago, Arches played sparingly and only had per game counts of 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 7.1 minutes. “Dumating po sa point na na-down ako, pero sabi po ng magulang ko, lumaban lang. Ginawa ko po silang motivation,” he said.

From there, he just kept working and working. “Pinapakita ko lang po lagi sa training yung kaya ko kasi alam ko sa sarili ko na may ibubuga ako,” he said.

The wait finally came to an end this year as, with the graduation of Bonifacio, Enriquez, and Gozum, Mapua needed new weapons to wield.

The 6-foot-1 guard has been just that for them, averaging 17.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.5 steals in a team-high 29.4 minutes.

And if not for the even more meteoric rise of Jose Rizal University High School’s John Amores, he may have very well been the league’s Most Improved Player.

For now, though, all that matters for Arches is the championship – making sure the Red Robins get back at College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills and making sure that he and good pal Escamis go out on a high.

Asked about that moment, he answered, “Nagpasalamat lang siya sa akin kasi (last Sunday), sa training, humingi siya ng favor na makapasok ulit ng Finals kasi gusto pa niya maglaro.”

And while it’s yet to be determined if Escamis will now be at full strength come Game 1 of the championship round on Tuesday, Mapua need not worry.

After all, they still have “Dagger” Dan Arches.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogog.

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