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Dela Cruz’s career high leads San Beda in win over EAC



After a week-long lay off due to the All-Star festivities in Season 91 of the NCAA, the defending champions San Beda College Red Lions opened the second round of games with a rout of the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 96-84 held at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City on Tuesday afternoon.

Going into the game, the Generals have yet to beat the Red Lions since they joined the Grand Old League.

The Red Lions were without three players in this game as fifth year player Baser Amer was still out due to a dislocated shoulder while foreign student-athlete Ola Adeogun served out a suspension. In addition, Joe Presbitero, who played a career game last Tuesday against the Arellano University Chiefs, was hospitalized due to typhoid fever.

Newly-aquired PBA pick Art Dela Cruz started-off hot to give his team an early separation against the Generals. The versatile forward was responsible for eight of the Red Lions’ 12 as they were able to limit EAC to four quiet points in the first half of the opening quarter. In addition, Donald Tankoua played a productive start in the middle and anchored the rebounding battle in the absence of Adeogun.

EAC fought back with good defense as they forced the Red Lions to contested attempts at the rim to slow down SBC’s scoring. Excellent movement on offense and defense enabled the Generals to trim the lead down to two with an 11-2 counter, capped by a three by Fernan Mejos and a putback by Enjerico Diego, to take the lead in the dying seconds of the first period.

San Beda scored 30 points in a blistering second quarter run and reestablished a good amount of separation in the dying minutes of the first half. The Generals maintained a small cushion in the early part of the second quarter but the reinsertion of Dela Cruz gave San Beda the much-needed scoring boost mostly on perimeter to respond against EAC’s shooting.

Despite not being able to hit a single triple in the first 20 minutes against EAC’s four made attempts, Dela Cruz finished the half with 20 big points. His squad added 24 more points in the paint against the smaller Generals squad.

A good exchange of perimeter baskets opened up the third quarter that favored San Beda to maintain their hold of the lead. EAC continued their sharp perimeter sniping while the Red Lions kept on harassing the Generals in the paint. However, EAC had a hard time breaking the 8-point barrier as San Beda’s full-court pressure defense extended the lead to double-digits once again. Mejos and Munsayac spearheaded the scoring for the Generals but Dela Cruz scored another ten points in the period to help San Beda end the third period up by ten.

San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin said after the game that the team should be more focused both in and out off the court as they are now in the second round. “The rookies are no longer rookies,” he said. Jarin was proud of how the rookies closed out the game. Moreover, Jarin feels blessed to coach Art dela Cruz in his final year. “I can’t say anything about his performance, his statline speaks for itself. However, he committed five turnovers,” he jokingly said.

The Red Lions pounded on the Generals more with an 8-1 start to the payoff period that pretty much halted any chance of a comeback. San Beda’s starters established the exclamation point in just three minutes to put the game away for good. In the remaining minutes of the fourth, the rookies of San Beda, led by AC Soberano’s 16 fourth quarter points, to give San Beda its eighth win of the season.

Art dela Cruz scored a career-high of 30 points on 15/23 shooting. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out five assists, and stole the ball four times. Soberano added 20 points on 8/15 shooting.

For the losing squad, Smart Elite ambassador Francis Munsayac topscored for his team with 20 points, including five conversions from downtown. He also dished out three assists and three steals. Big man Hamadou Laminou grabbed a double-double with 18 points and ten rebounds.

San Beda is now half a game behind Letran with an 8-2 record while EAC drops to the cellar of the standings with a 2-8 slate.

The Red Lions will next face the CSB Blazers on Friday, August 28 at 12:00nn while the Generals face the CSJL Knights on the same day at 4:00pm.

The Scores:
SBC (96) – Dela Cruz 30, Soberano 20, Sara 14, Tankoua 11, Mocon 5, Koga 4, Solera 4, Sedillo 4, Cabanag 2, Tongco 2, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0.
EAC (84) – Munsayac 20, Laminou 18, Diego 14, Mejos 12, Pascua 8, Onwubere 6, Bonleon 3, Morada 3, Estacio 0.
Quarterscores: 14-16, 44-35, 70-60, 96-84.