SAN JUAN City – San Beda College broke out of a three-way logjam to assume the temporary solo leadership of the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament with a hard-earned 75-65 crushing of season host Mapua Institute of Technology Friday (September 25) at the jam-packed San Juan Arena. Improving to 12-4, the defending champion Red Lions hold a half-game lead over Colegio de San Juan de Letran and University of Perpetual Help System-Dalta who are both at 11-4.
San Beda started strong and built their biggest lead of the game in the second period, 38-16, on consecutive baskets by Donald Tankoua at the 3:30 mark. Hoping to stay in contention for a berth in the playoffs, the Cardinals staged a mighty rally at the start of the final canto with rookie Darrell Menina canning two triples and capped by a four-point cluster by Josan Nimes to threaten, 60-61, and 5:10 to go.
Art de la Cruz bailed out San Beda with a basket followed by a big triple for some breathing space, 66-60, at the 3:57 mark. The defense then held Mapua scoreless in the final two minutes with Baser Amer, Ola Adeogun and Jayvee Mocon sealing the result via the free throw line.
De la Cruz had another double-double of 17 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for the Red Lions. Amer was next with 15 points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Alllwell Oraeme topped the Cardinals with 15 points to go with 21 rebounds. Menina also had 15 points, all coming from the three-point line.
“This is a good win because we get an advantage,” said Coach Jamike Jarin. “This is the stretch of the season so every win counts.”
The Red Lions are coming off a lackluster performance in a loss to also-ran San Sebastian College two days earlier, 98-92. Coach Jarin challenged his players to show what character they are made off and he was pleased with what he saw in today’s game.
In the Juniors Division, the defending champion Red Cubs of Coach JB Sison maintained their immaculate slate by fending off the challenge of the Malayan High School of Science Red Robins, 89-84. The Red Cubs are unscathed in 16 games while the Red Robins saw their 14-game winning streak evaporate as they fell to 14-2.
Pedro Alfaro hit back-to-back triples to restore the lead to SBC for good, 80-79, and 1:39 remaining. What followed were five more unanswered points as the Red Cubs erected an unassailable 87-79 advantage at the 21-second mark.
Evan Nelle was the highest pointer for the Red Cubs with 21 followed by Prince Etrata with 13. Samuel Abuhijleh had 11 points and 15 rebounds as he made up for the ejection of Germy Mahinay with a second left in the second period for punching Warren Bonifacio.
Mike Enriquez led the Red Robins with 20. Jasper Salenga and Romuel Junsay added 18 each.
The Red Cubs are two wins away from an 18-game sweep of the eliminations. That feat would entitle them to an automatic spot in the finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage.
How They Scored:
First Game (Juniors)
SAN BEDA-RIZAL (89) – Nelle 21, Etrata 13, Abuhijleh 11, Velasquez 10, Bordeos 9, Alfaro 9, Mahinay 8, Nayve 4, Lagumen 4, Tagala 0, de la Rosa 0, Bonalos 0.
MALAYAN SCIENCE (84) – Enriquez 20, Salenga 18, Junsay 18, Concepcion 8, Uson 6, Garcia 5, Bonifacio 5, Yco 4, Camilossa 0, Badillo 0.
Period Scores: 22-25, 39-48, 61-61, 89-84.
Second Game (Seniors)
SAN BEDA (75) – de la Cruz 17, Amer 15, Tankoua 12, Tongco 12, Koga 10, Adeogun 7, Mocon 2, Cabanag 0, Soberano 0, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0.
MAPUA TECH (65) – Oraeme 15, Meninan 15, Nieles 10, Nimes 9, Brana 6, Serrano 4, Isit 2, Aguirre 2, Raflores 2, Biteng 0.
Period Scores: 23-12, 41-26, 58-48, 75-65.