SAN JUAN City – San Beda College emerged as the top seed for the ninth season in a row at the close of the elimination round of the 90th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament. The defending champion Red Lions knocked off the Arellano University Chiefs, 97-69, in their one-game playoff Friday afternoon (October 10) at the San Juan Arena.
Enjoying their best season in school history, the Chiefs raced to a 27-18 lead after one period behind starting center Julius Cadavis and sixth man Levi Hernandez. Suddenly, disaster struck at the seven-minute mark of the second canto and Chiefs nursing a 32-28 cushion.
Christian Palma and Keith Agovida were slapped with consecutive unsportsmanlike fouls upon which the Red Lions capitalized to start their 15-0 blitz to close out the first half, 43-23. The Chiefs never recovered as Coach Jerry Codinera later admitted that those fouls really affected their game plan.
Both teams traded scoring spurts in the third canto to allow San Beda to maintain their 11-point margin entering the final ten minutes. The Red Lions then went for the early knockout as Ryusei Koga, Jaypee Mendoza and David Semerad powered a 14-2 opening run to the fourth period to erect an unassailable 81-58 advantage with still 5:17 to play.
San Beda was not yet finished. Coach Boyet Fernandez continued to use his stalwarts as they further increased their margin to as high as 32 markers, 97-65.
Baser Amer led all scorers with 21 points plus five assists. Ola Adeogun had a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds in only 21 minutes of action.
Hernandez topped the Chiefs with 11 markers. Agovida also had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds but his good game ended when he was ejected with 5:38 remaining in the fourth after picking up his second unsportsmanlike foul.
What was touted as a preview of a potential championship matchup turned into a laugher as the Red Lions snapped their three-game losing skid. As the top seed, they will now face unpredictable University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta which bowed to Jose Rizal University in overtime in their playoff for the third seed, 79-82.
The Chiefs will tangle with the Heavy Bombers in the other fixture. The Final Four will be held on October 15 (Wednesday) at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Meanwhile, the Malayan High School of Science Red Robins earned the top seeding in the Juniors Division Final Four by clipping the defending champion San Beda Red Cubs, 87-78. The one-game playoff was needed after both schools topped the elimination round with similar 15-3 win-loss records.
The Red Cubs rallied at the start of the fourth period to tie the game for the second and final time at 71-71. From there, David Velvez powered an 11-0 Red Robins run for an 82-71 tally.
That was enough as the Red Robins held on despite a late surge by the Red Cubs that cut the deficit to only five points, 77-82. Velvez, Sherwin Concepcion and Laurenz Victoria then shot a combined five out of eight from the free throw line to preserve the win, their first over the Red Cubs this year after dropping both elimination round games, 89-97 and 63-67.
Velvez topped the Red Robins of Coach Randy Alcantara with 28 points followed by Concepcion with 18 to go with 10 rebounds. Evan Jacob Furaque paced the Red Cubs with 18 points followed by Norrish Decapia with 14.
The Red Robins will meet the fourth seed Jose Rizal Light Bombers in the Final Four. The other fixture pits the Red Cubs against the third seed Letran Squires.
How They Scored:
First Game (Juniors)
MALAYAN SCIENCE (87) – Velvez 28, Concepcion 18, Aguirre 13, Pascua 13, Victoria 9, Lugo 6, Calderon 0, Enriquez 0, Salenga 0, Cabural 0, Bonifacio 0.
SAN BEDA-RIZAL (78) – Furaque 18, Decapia 14, Caracut 12, Abuhijle 10, Diputado 9, Abatayo 8, Bordeos 4, Framil 3, Alas 2, Geralao 0.
Period Scores: 27-18, 46-40, 67-61, 87-78.
Third Game (Seniors)
SAN BEDA (97) – Amer 21, Adeogun 15, Pascual 14, Sara 10, de la Cruz 10, Mendoza 9, Koga 7, A. Semerad 6, D. Semerad 5, Tongco 0.
ARELLANO (69) – Hernandez 11, Agovida 10, Jalalon 8, Holts 8, Cadavis 6, Nicholls 5, Caperal 4, Enriquez 4, Ortega 3, Gumaru 2, Salcedo 2, Ciriacruz 2, Bangga 2, Pinto 2, Palma 0.
Period Scores: 18-22, 43-32, 67-56, 97-69.