Physical was the three-game epic San Beda and Letran had in the NCAA Season 95 Seniors Basketball Finals.
Bodies were all over the floor and fouls were a lot.
Looking back, Red Lions’ Evan Nelle, Calvin Oftana, and Clint Doliguez gave animated visuals of what happened on the hardcourt in podcast Straight Up with Mikee Reyes.
“Dinuduraan nga ako e. Kadiri e. Sa muka! Dura, sapak,” said Nelle, who was part of the NCAA Season 95 Mythical Team.
“Sobrang pisikal talaga nila kay Evan. Gusto nila masira yung laro kasi once masira mo laro ni Evan, wala na,” added Doliguez, who ended up as the sixth overall pick in the 2019 PBA Draft.
“Sinapak nga ako sa baseline e kaya napahiga ako nun,” recalled NCAA Season 95 MVP Oftana, saying that Tommy Oliverio threw a cheap shot at him right at his solar plexus.
“Alam mong pisikal kasi nakita sa replay na pinatid ni Fran [Yu] si [Franz] Abuda o si Donnie [Tankoua],” continued Nelle.
And that was just in the first two games.
It did not help the Red Lions that the NCAA did not bar Letran from having a lot of coaches drawing up plays from the sidelines outside of head coach Bonnie Tan.
“Di ko nga alam bakit ang dami nila e,” said Oftana, enumerating that NorthPort head coach Pido Jarencio, then-former Knights head coach Jeff Napa, and Special Assistant to the Rector for Sports Alfrancis Chua were also helping design plays.
“Mas na motivate pa kami nun.”
Needing to get back at Letran in the winner-take-all Game Three, the trio shared that they had one trick up their sleeves.
It was playing Nunu Noah, the NCAA Season 92 Finals MVP.
Though standing at just 6-foot-3, the Cameroonian student-athlete was as burly as they come. However, entering the game, Noah had just played in 12 games, logging just a total of 59.7 minutes.
“They were physical kasi. Game Three, kilala mo si Noah di ba? Practice namin, gagamitin dapat si Nunu para bawian yung Letran. Parang titirahin, ganun,” bared Nelle.
“Yung adjustment lang namin more on tendencies. Dun naka-focus si Coach Boyet [Fernandez],” added Doliguez.
Noah did not play a single minute in Game Three which the trio rued.
“Coming into Game Three dapat bawi,” said Nelle with Doliguez backing him up.
“Sinasabi sa amin yun kahit sa huddle na lalaro si Nunu. Hindi pinasok. We could have adjusted pero same plays bro.”
San Beda lost the game and the chance for a five-peat with the thinnest of margins, 79-81.
Well, it did not help also that the Red Lions shot just 8-of-32 from downtown.
“Hindi gumana yung outside shooting namin,” opined Doliguez.