PASAY CITY – Defending champion San Beda College forced a deciding Game Three for the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Seniors basketball crown by thumping Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 68-61, in front of a packed SM Mall of Asia Arena Tuesday (October 27). The decider will be played on Thursday (October 29) at the same venue.
Putting aside memories of their Game One debacle, the Red Lions started with renewed energy as they raced to a 22-15 lead after the first 10 minutes behind six by Ola Adeogun and five by substitute AC Soberano. Six straight points to begin the second period established their biggest lead of the game, 28-15.
Unfazed, the Knights stormed back behind the 13 points of Mark Cruz in the third canto, including a triple with 3:47 to play that gave them the lead for the first time, 43-42. Letran would temporarily allow San Beda to go back on top but regained the upper hand behind a triple by McJour Luib and two free throws by Kevin Racal at the beginning of the fourth period, 54-52.
The Red Lions quickly regained the advantage on a six-point blitz starring Dan Sara and Michole Sorela, 58-54. From there, Baser Amer and Sara knocked in key triples that kept San Beda ahead by six, 66-60, and 3:21 on the clock.
Poor free throw shooting in the fourth tolled heavily on the Knights’ chances as they missed six of their ten attempts, including four misses by the usually reliable Rey Nambatac. San Beda then caught the Letran defense napping as Jayvee Mocon was spotted all alone under the rim for the exclamation point on their well-played game.
“It can’t get any better than this, all players have to experience a Game Three,” said winning coach Jamike Jarin. “We expect another classic on Thursday that the fans will enjoy.”
Adeogun led the Red Lions with 14 points, eight coming in the third period to counter Letran’s rallies. Mocon added 13, nine also made in the third.
Cruz eventually finished with 21 points. Luib and Jomari Sollano backed him up with 10 markers each.
“We remain optimistic,” said Coach Aldin Ayo. “The players are willing to die in Game Three.”
The Red Lions’ win cushioned the impact of the Red Cubs loss in the Juniors Division Finals to the Arellano Braves, 72-68. Despite handing the Red Cubs their first loss of the season, the Braves still face the daunting task of winning the next two games to snatch the title.
“It’s hard to play teams that have been together for years,” said Coach Tylon Dar Juan. “We will just continue to play our game and work on our defense.”
Guilmer de la Torre and Ira Bataller unloaded five points each to key the Braves’ quick start in the first period, 25-13. De la Torre saved enough for the endgame as he scored the Braves’ final five points to hold off the Red Cubs’ final push.
Carlo Abadeza led the Braves with 16 points and 11 rebounds. De la Torre was next with 15.
Samuel Abuhijle topped the Red Cubs with 16 points, 12 coming in the second period, on top of 13 rebounds. Evan Nelle was next with 15 points, 12 made in the fourth.
Game Three of the Juniors Finals will also be held on Thursday at the MOA Arena starting at 2:00 PM. The Seniors finale will commence at 4:00 PM.
How They Scored:
ARELLANO (72) – Abadeza 16, de la Torre 15, Bataller 9, Sunga 7, Calapine 7, Velasco 5, Tamayo 5, Danas 4, Espiritu 2, Fornis 0.
SAN BEDA-RIZAL (68) – Abuhijle 16, Nelle 15, Bordeos 13, Velasquez 6, Nayve 4, Mahinay 4, Tagala 3, Lagumen 3, Etrata 2, Alfaro 2, de la Rosa 0.
Period Scores: 25-13, 41-35, 57-49, 72-68.
SAN BEDA (68) – Adeogun 14, Mocon 13, de la Cruz 12, Amer 9, Sorela 7, Soberano 5, Sara 5, Tankoua 3, Koga 0, Cabanag 0, Reyes 0, Presbitero 0, Tongco 0.
LETRAN (61) – Cruz 21, Sollano 10, Luib 10, Racal 9, Balanza 6, Calvo 5, Apreku 0, Nambatac 0, Balagasay 0, Quinto 0.
Period Scores: 22-15, 33-30, 52-49, 68-61.