SAN JUAN City – San Beda College hurdled a major acid test as they clipped the University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta, 83-81, in an early meeting title favorites at the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) games at the San Juan Arena Tuesday (July 28). The defending champion Red Lions extended their winning streak to three games while the Altas suddenly found themselves in a two-game slump.
Art de la Cruz took the responsibility of lifting his Red Lions against the dangerous Altas by tallying 13 points in the first period and San Beda nursing the slimmest of margins, 19-18. However, it was the endgame heroics of Mychole Sorela that saved the day.
On top by only two markers, 81-79, Sorela intercepted the Altas’ inbound pass and was promptly fouled with five seconds left in the game. He calmly made both free throws to up San Beda’s lead to a more comfortable four, 83-79.
In an instant, Sorela nearly transformed from hero to goat as he fouled reigning NCAA MVP Earl Scottie Thompson as he missed a hurried triple with 2.9 ticks remaining. Sadly for the Altas, Thompson missed his first free throw but went on to convert the next two for the final count.
The Altas managed to grab the lead at halftime, 39-35, thanks to the efforts of Bright Akhuetie, Gabriel Dagangon and Thompson. Scoreless and preferring to act as a decoy in the first half, San Beda’s Ola Adeogun awoke just in time to pump in five points in the pivotal third period and together with key baskets from de la Cruz, Ranbill Tongco and AC Soberano restored the Red Lions in the driver’s seat entering the final period, 60-54.
“We played a great third period and that was the key to today’s win,” said Coach Jamike Jarin. “I would like to congratulate my Seniors Art, Ola and Mychole for carrying the team today against a very tough opponent.”
True enough the trio produced eye-popping double-doubles as they battled the Altas’ imposing frontline tandem of Akhuetie and Prince Eze. De la Cruz had 25 points, 17 rebounds plus six assists, Sorela had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Adeogun added 11 points and 13 rebounds.
San Beda proceeded to erect its biggest lead in the game by scoring the first five points of the fourth canto, 65-54. Dagangon then bailed Perpetual Help from a possible blowout with three unanswered triples to threaten with seven minutes to go, 63-65.
Thompson was already taking matters in his own hands and put the Altas at their closest via two free throws at the four-minute mark, 69-70. Adeogun then responded with back-to-back baskets to restore breathing space for San Beda, 74-69.
Poor free throw shooting cost Perpetual Help the chance to reverse the outcome in their favor. Thompson missed four straight while Akhuetie two for four in the final four prior to Sorela’s game-winning plays.
“Their championship experience really showed today,” said Altas coach Aric del Rosario. In a key statistic, the Altas missed 13 of their 24 free throws.
Akhuetie led the Altas with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Thompson was next with 10 of his 20 markers in the final period to go with four rebounds, five assists and two steals in 39 minutes of play.
In the Juniors Divison, the Red Cubs of Coach JB Sison remained perfect in six games by destroying the still winless Junior Altas, 85-61. Albert Bordeos led the way for the Red Cubs with 15 points followed by Robi Nayve and Samuel Abuhijle with 14 apiece.
Meanwhile, the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers continued their hot streak by downing the College of Saint Benilde Blazers, 67-49, and stretch their winning run to three games. La Salle Green Hills arrested their two-game slide and kept the Light Bombers winless in six outings, 86-47.
How They Scored:
SAN BEDA-RIZAL (85) – Bordeos 15, Nayve 14, Abuhijle 14, Nelle 8, Alfaro 7, Lagumen 5, Barbero 4, Etrata 4, de la Rosa 4, Sese 3, Velasquez 2, Mahinay 2, Bonalos 2, Tagala 0, Samaniego 0.
PERPETUAL HELP (61) – Umali 32, Gelogo 12, Inigo 5, Deleon 5, Guinto 5, Rocero 2, Espeleta 0, Coloma 0, Bautista 0.
Period Scores: 18-19, 35-33, 58-44, 85-61.
SAN BEDA (83) – de la Cruz 25, Sorela 15, Adeogun 11, Tongco 10, Tankoua 7, Sara 5, Soberano 4, Koga 2, Cabanag 2, Mocon 2, Reyes 0.
PERPETUAL HELP (81) – Akhuetie 25, Thompson 20, Dagangon 18, Coronel 6, Dizon 3, Eze 3, Tamayo 2, Gallardo 2, Cabiltes 2, Oliveria 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Sadiwa 0, Elopre 0.
Period Scores: 19-18, 35-39, 60-54, 83-81.