PASAY CITY – San Beda College secured the top seeding of the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament by holding off Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 83-78, at the Mall of Asia Arena Tuesday (October 13). In the first game, season host Mapua Institute of Technology claimed the last spot in the Final Four by eliminating last year’s runner-up Arellano University, 93-75.
Leading by as much as 15 markers in the first half, the defending champion Red Lions looked headed for the easy win until the Knights staged a spirited rally behind Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal, beginning with a 12-3 blitz that cut their deficit to a mere point, 75-76, and 1:28 to play. Baser Amer then responded with two free throws but Jomari Sollano completed a three-point play off the final foul of Jayvee Mocon for the game’s only deadlock, 78-78, and 35 ticks remaining.
Rising to the occasion, Ryusei Koga issued an assist to the waiting Ola Adeogun for the go-ahead basket at the 17-second mark, 80-78. Cruz then missed a triple with Amer collaring the defensive rebound, forcing Racal to foul him with five seconds to play.
Amer calmly made his first charity but missed the second, only to see Adeogun tip in the offensive rebound to seal the victory. The Red Lions will now meet the loser of the October 16 playoff game between Jose Rizal University and Mapua Tech in the Final Four.
“I have no complaints about our performance in the elimination,” said Coach Jamike Jarin. “But it does not matter because these coming games are the games that we have to win.”
Adeogun hit 11 of his 21 points in the fourth period, on top of nine rebounds. Mocon fueled San Beda’s hot start with 14 of his 16 points in the first half and at one juncture outscoring the entire Letran side.
Cruz paced the Knights with 29 points. Racal followed with 17 points and eight rebounds.
“I’m lying if I will say that there is no pressure,” added Coach Jarin. “I know that there are a lot of expectations but at least I’m happy to be home at San Beda.”
Both the Red Lions and Knights finished the elimination round with similar 13-5 win-loss cards. This marks the 10th season in a row that San Beda topped the elimination race.
Josan Nimes paced the MIT Cardinals with 21 points, 11 coming in the second period. CJ Isit and Darell Menina followed with 14 markers each.
Jiovani Jalalon’s 37-point effort went to naught as he got little support from his teammates. Kent Salado was the next with only nine points.
Meanwhile, La Salle Green Hills grabbed the fourth slot in the Juniors Division Final Four by ousting Lyceum-Cavite, 88-71. The Greenies rode on the 40 points and 10 rebounds of Ricci Rivero.
How They Scored:
MAPUA TECH (93) – Nimes 21, Isit 14, Menina 14, Oraeme 13, Serrano 10, Brana 10, Aguirre 6, Nieles 5, Que 0.
ARELLLANO (75) – Jalalon 37, Salado 9, Cadavis 7, Nicholls 6, Meca 4, Bangga 4, Tano 4, Holts 2, Enriquez 2, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Gumaru 0, Ortega 0, Zamora 0.
Period Scores: 16-15, 49-33, 69-51, 93-75.
SAN BEDA (83) – Adeogun 21, Mocon 16, Sara 12, de la Cruz 12, Tankoua 10, Soberano 4, Koga 3, Cabanag 2, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0, Tongco 0, Sorela 0, Sedillo 0.
LETRAN (78) – Cruz 29, Racal 17, Sullano 9, Quinto 9, Nambatac 8, Balanza 2, Calvo 2, Luib 2, Apreku 0, Publico 0.
Period Scores: 17-12, 41-30, 59-48, 83-78.