With the hot-shooting Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals breathing on their necks, the San Beda College Red Lions relied on their big game experienced over the rookie-laden Cardinals to survive, 75-65 to also play as streak-busters at the FilOil Flying V Arena, Friday afternoon.
After a brief moment of holding onto the lead in the early minutes, Mapua succumbed against San Beda’s suffocating defense underneath. The Red Lions did a good job denying Allwell Oraeme’s touches inside while their plan of attack was to run in transition and making the extra passes.
Veteran duo of Baser Amer and Art Dela Cruz anchored the running game for the Red Lions as they combined for three fastbreak attempts to give them an early 14-9 edge. Amer, who did not suit up against the Cardinals in their first round meeting, tallied seven early points in the first as a starter to give his team a 23-10 edge after the quarter.
Mapua was on a slump to begin the second quarter while the Red Lions fast attack for points was showcased. SBC had an 8-0 run in four minutes to extend their lead to 19. Josan Nimes snapped the cold streak for his squad with a floater and finding JP Nieles to finally put up some points for Mapua. The Cardinals installed a mini-rally late in the first half as they erased a 22-pt hole with a 10-3 counter including balanced scoring from their five on the floor.
The momentum carried by the Cardinals continued in the second half as they slowly chipped into the lead and make the game a closely-fought battle. However in the third, every mini-rally put up the Cardinals was answered by big shots from San Beda. Donald Tankoua scored six straight points late in the third for SBC but Shane Menina started to catch fire from downtown. The good exchange of baskets maintained San Beda’s 10pt lead after three quarters.
Suddenly, Mapua was knocking on the door as they opened the fourth with an 8-0 run within 90 seconds as Menina inked in two more from three-point territory. Nimes also asserted himself as a floater made it a 61-60 game for SBC with five mins left in the match. Afterwards, Baser Amer, Art Dela Cruz and Ola Adeogun anchored the composure down the stretch as they were able to punch in the game-sealing field goals and rally-extinguishing baskets to break Mapua’s six-game winning run. The Red Lions limited the Cardinals to quiet five points while Oraeme missed a critical fastbreak layup with 47.1 remaining and failed to catch a pass from the inbounds at the successive possession.
“Well, it’s a big win. It’s a big game because we get an advantage right now. It’s the home stretch,” a relieved Jamike Jarin said in the postgame scrum. “It really, really counts. For today lang, iba yung pangyayari. We were ahead and they came fighting back. It shows how good a team they really are. They were shooting right in front of us and it was going in. It’s a testament to the confidence their coaches are giving them and the excellent shooting they teach them.”
“This should be a character game. We will see what type of young men we have,” he added.
Top MVP candidate Art dela Cruz led all scorers with 17 points. The senior also grabbed 10 boards and was able to dish out 5 dimes. “Well, wala na ko masasabi sa kanya. Just keep on improving,” Jarin said about his senior Dela Cruz.
Four other Red Lions scored in double-figures with Smart Elite ambassador Baser Amer scoring 15 points and grabbing 9 rebounds.
For the Cardinals, both Allwell Oraeme and Darell Menina scored 15 points apiece. The league-leader in rebounds grabbed 21 boards as well and was able to swat 2 San Beda attempts. Menina, on the other hand, was hot from down town in shooting 5/7 from rainbow country.
The Red Lions (12-4) will next face the Arellano Chiefs, 4pm on Oct. 1 while Mapua’s (10-6) next assignment will be up against the EAC Generals, 2pm the next day.
SBC (75) – Dela Cruz 17, Amer 15, Tankoua 12, Tongco 12,Koga 10, Adeogun 7, Mocon 2, Cabanag 0, Soberano 0, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0
MIT (65) – Oraeme 15, Menina 15, Nieles 10, Nimes 9, Brana 6, Serrano 4, Isit 2, Aguirre 2, Raflores 2, Biteng 0
Quarters: 23-12, 41-26, 58-48, 75-65
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