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NCAA 99: ‘Others’ step up vs Lyceum, lifts San Beda to first Finals since S95


San Beda University propelled itself into the Finals of the NCAA Season 99 Seniors Basketball Tournament by delivering a knockout three-point shooting performance, securing an 82-72 victory over Lyceum of the Philippines University on Friday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The victory occurred despite an exceptional performance from Lyceum’s Enoch Valdez, who concluded his NCAA campaign with 28 points.

After torching the Pirates with 28 points in San Beda’s 89-68 victory in the first match, Cortez assumed a supporting role in their second encounter as the Pirates focused their defensive efforts on him.

NCAA-99-F4-SBU-vs.-LPU-Cuntapay-and-Alfaro NCAA 99: 'Others' step up vs Lyceum, lifts San Beda to first Finals since S95 Basketball LPU NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

“They were zoning, and they were staying home on Jacob. Luckily, they left some guys open, and those guys were ready to shoot. I have to give it to the confidence of that kid; he’s really something else,” explained head coach Yuri Escueta.

“Not just him, even the others, they were ready to shoot. We made our shots, played defense, it’s really different – they didn’t want to lose.”

Cortez’s shift allowed the rest of the Red Lions to exploit the defensive attention he commanded, attacking driving lanes, and finding open shots beyond the arc.

The offensive advantage for San Beda became evident in the third quarter, where they made seven three-pointers, with Nygel Gonzales and Damie Cuntapay contributing significantly off the bench.

San Beda’s hot shooting propelled them to a 12-point lead, 63-51, after Yukien Andrada’s three-pointer with 2:04 left in the third. From there, the Red Lions worked to protect the lead.

“Well, at the start of the season, our goal really was – like every team in the NCAA – the championship, so one step closer. I’d like to commend LPU and coach Gilbert [Malabanan] for a good season. The effort and energy of his players and not just his system, but how he teaches the players, the character of his players,” Escueta shared.

“You really can’t say anything against LPU and their school.”

NCAA-99-F4-SBU-vs.-LPU-Jomel-Puno NCAA 99: 'Others' step up vs Lyceum, lifts San Beda to first Finals since S95 Basketball LPU NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

Four players finished in double-digits for San Beda, with James Payosing and Jomel Puno leading the way. Payosing had an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double, while Puno achieved a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards.

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Gonzales added 11 points, nine of which came in the third quarter, along with five assists and two rebounds. Andrada ended with 10 points and five rebounds.

The Red Lions overcame a twice-to-beat advantage as the third seed and won consecutive games, entering the finals with insurmountable momentum.

They now set their sights on a match-up against the top-seeded Mapua University, who dominated their season series 2-0.

San Beda’s finals against Mapua will be their 16th appearance and its first since NCAA Season 95.

The match-up also marks the first time San Beda will meet Mapua in the finals since 1991. Back then, the Cardinals’ current head coach Randy Alcantara was still a player for Mapua.

In that 1991 meeting, it was Mapua who prevailed after a game-winning offensive rebound and putback from former PBA big man Benny Cheng to bring home the title to Intramuros.

Thirty-two years later, Mapua has yet to taste gold since that fabled championship battle against San Beda in 1991.

While the Cardinals aim to bring back the crown after three decades by repeating history, the Red Lions look to rewrite it by avenging their predecessors’ loss 32 long years ago to grab hold of San Beda’s 23rd NCAA championship.

NCAA-99-F4-SBU-vs.-LPU-Enoch-Valdez-2 NCAA 99: 'Others' step up vs Lyceum, lifts San Beda to first Finals since S95 Basketball LPU NCAA News SBC  - philippine sports news

For Lyceum, only John Bravo finished in double-digits alongside Valdez’s performance, tallying 16 points and 11 rebounds.

After appearing as a title contender for most of the season, the Pirates fell short of the finals in back-to-back seasons. They have a chance to secure third place in their battle with the College of Saint Benilde.

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The Scores:

San Beda 82- Payosing 18, Puno 15, Gonzales 11, Andrada 10, Cuntapay 9, Cortez 7, Jopia 6, Tagle 3, Visser 3, Alfaro 0

Lyceum 72- Valdez 28, Bravo 16, Guadana 8, Barba 7, Cunanan 6, Villegas 4, Omandac 3, Montano 0, Umali 0, Penafiel 0

Quarterscores: 26-17, 41-38, 66-56, 82-72

Written By

Vito Martin is a sportswriter from the Philippines. In 2023, he graduated from the Ateneo De Manila University with a degree in BS Psychology. He wrote for Ateneo’s official school publication The GUIDON, where he covered basketball, football, baseball, badminton, and other collegiate sports. He is a life-long fan of the Boston Celtics and an avid follower of the NBA


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