SAN JUAN City – Defending champion San Beda College exhibited great form on defense to subdue College of Saint Benilde, 73-67, and notch their second win in a row at the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the San Juan Arena Thursday (July 23). The Red Lions improved to a 4-1 win-loss card as they prepare to meet the top tier teams in the coming weeks.
Deviating from their high-scoring style, the Red Lions focused on defense and held the Blazers to only eight points in the first period while scoring 20 of their own to set the tone for the game. San Beda then continued to pound the Blazers, racing ahead by as far as 19 points with 3:41 left before the halftime break on a basket by Alfred Sedillo, 35-16.
Suddenly, it was the turn for the Red Lions to turn cold as Alfonso Saavedra keyed a Saint Benilde rally upon resumption of the game. Mustering only nine markers, the Red Lions saw their once-imposing lead reduced to only two points after JJ Domingo connected on a triple just before the third period buzzer, 50-48.
“We thought it was over and we became careless,” admitted Coach Jamike Jarin. “Credit goes to Saint Benilde for the good defense they played in the third period.”
Collecting their bearings, San Beda opened the final period with an 11-0 run powered by the seven points of Jeramer Cabanag, 61-48. Still, the Blazers refused to quit with Jonathan Grey and Gerard Castor trying their best to carry the fight.
Castor hit a field goal just before the two-minute warning to bring Saint Benilde to their closest, 62-68. Back-to-back baskets by Ryusei Koga and Ola Adeogun neutralized the threat with Adeogun adding another free throw to restore the Red Lions’ twin-digit lead and settle the outcome with still 1:10 remaining.
“Jeramer is a good player, he was the go-to guy when he was still with the West Negros University Mustangs,” said Coach Jarin. Cabanag struggled for minutes and form last season as a rookie, stepped up as he engaged Castor in a fourth period shootout reminiscent of their meetings back home in Bacolod City when Castor was with the University of Saint La Salle Stingers.
Adeogun tallied season highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds, responding to a personal challenge from team manager Coach Jude Roque to show more energy. Art de la Cruz had another fantastic output of 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Grey led the Blazers with 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists in a reserve role. Saavedra sank three triples to finish with 15 points and four assists as they dropped to 1-4.
In Juniors Division action, the Red Cubs of Coach JB Sison walloped the struggling La Salle Green Hills Greenies, 84-63, and stretch their unbeaten streak to five games. Nursing a slim two-point edge entering the fourth period, 56-54, the Red Cubs held their opponents to only nine points and the defense resulted in easy scores for Pedro Alfaro, Samuel Abuhijle and JM Lagumen to turn to game into a blowout.
Albert Bordeos and Abuhijle paced the Red Cubs with 15 points each and Abuhijle completed a double-double by hauling 13 rebounds. Ricci Rivero was the lone bright spot for LSGH with 28 points and eight rebounds followed by AJ Madrigal with 13 markers as they fell to 2-3.
Meanwhile, the Letran Knights assumed to solo leadership via a 79-81 thumping of previously unbeaten University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta. The Knights are now at 5-0 while the Altas entered into a tie with San Beda at 4-1.
In the other Junior game, the Squires escaped with an 81-80 victory over the Junior Altas in overtime. The Squires are now at 3-2 while the Junior Altas are still winless in five starts.
How They Scored:
SAN BEDA-RIZAL (84) – Bordeos 15, Abuhijle 15, Alfaro 13, Lagumen 11, Tagala 10, Etrata 9, Nayve 7, de la Rosa 2, Mahinay 2, Velasquez 0, Nelle 0.
LA SALLE GREEN HILLS (63) – Rivero 28, Madrigal 13, Malilin 11, Herrera 4, Manuel 3, Lanot 2, Joven 2, Magpantay 0, Pagulayan 0, Velasco 0, Pedrosa 0.
Period Scores: 20-23, 42-38, 56-54, 84-63.
SAN BEDA (73) – Adeogun 25, de la Cruz 10, Cabanag 9, Sara 6, Tankoua 6, Koga 5, Tongco 5, Reyes 3, Sorela 2, Sedillo 2, Soberano 0, Mocon 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0.
SAINT BENILDE (67) – Grey 16, Saavedra 15, JJ Domingo 8, Fajarito 8, Sta. Maria 7, Castor 7, Ongteco 4, San Juan 2, Jonson 0, Nayve 0, Young 0.
Period Scores: 20-8, 41-28, 50-48, 73-67.