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New-look Red Lions end TIP’s ‘Cinderella’ run

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With the core of their team graduating, the San Beda College Red Lions roster for the 2015 National Collegiate Championship featured new faces.

In the quarterfinals of the NCC tournament, the Red Lions played selfless basketball for the first three quarters. However, the reigning Inter-Scholastic Athletic Association (ISAA) champions, the Technology Institute of the Philippines Engineers, fought back and almost hijacked the match behind the late-game surge of Joshua Alcober and Jemuel Namocatcat. The Engineers, though, failed in their late-game clock management as the Red Lions eliminated the Engineers, 79-77, Tuesday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

The Red Lions jumped to an early 7-4 lead early in the game behind team captain Dan Sara. The Engineers, through long-range jumpers by foreign student-athlete Ikechukwu Akrupu and Leo Benavides, were able to tie the game at 9-all. After a TIP timeout midway through the first quarter, the Red Lions pounced on the hapless defense of the Engineers. NCAA Season 91 holdovers Donald Tankoua and Ranbill Tongco led the charge to give San Beda a 25-15 lead to end the first quarter.

The San Beda defense stifled the P. Casal-based squad, limiting them to just three field goals in the second stanza. Three-pointers by former La Salle Green Archers Robert Bolick, Filipino-American Davon Potts, and AC Soberano helped extend the San Beda lead. Moreover, Tankoua was unstoppable in the paint in scoring four second quarter points. The San Beda blast was capped by a buzzer-beating jumper by Tongco to extend their lead to 20, 49-29, to enter the break.

The Red-and-White continued their excellent play in the third canto. The troika of Potts, Bolick, and Tankoua helped extend the San Beda lead further in the quarter while a basket by foreign student-athlete Arnand Noah gave San Beda the biggest lead of the game, 63-41, with 3:12 remaining. After a San Beda timeout, the Potit De Vera-mentored squad went on a 13-3 blast. During the rally, Benavides gained the hot hand in knocking down to triples. A conversion by Alcober ended the quarter with TIP just down by 12 points, 66-54.

In the final frame, the Red Lion lead again went to as high as 16 points with 7:51 remaining. JVee Mocon, though, was hampered by fouls that led to a split by Akrupu on the foul stripe. A basket by Potts would be the last field goal of San Beda in the next 2:50 of the game as TIP went on an 8-0 rally, half of the production coming from Terrence Tumalip, to cut the Beda lead to single digits, 76-67. A pull-up jumper by Sara momentarily halted the momentum of TIP. The wave of momentum for TIP continued with Namocatcat scoring on two finds by Tumalip. A find by Namocatcat to a wide-open Alcober underneath cut the Beda lead to just four, 78-74, with 1:33 remaining. A split on the stripe by Tankoua and a bevy of turnovers gave TIP a chance, but failure to execute in the end game led to the demise of the Engineers. A late-triple by Nino Ibanes proved to be too late as the San Beda Red Lions narrowly escaped with the win, 79-77.

“We played selfless basketball in the first three quarter,” San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin said after the game. “Pero we forgot to play basketball in the final quarter.” Moreover, Jarin gave credit to the “never say die” attitude of the Engineers in saying, “Coach Potit (De Vera) has built a good program over there.”

With the win, the San Beda Red Lions set up a rematch of the NCAA Season 91 Finals, as they face the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights tomorrow, December 16. “We have no idea who’s coaching and who’s playing for Letran,” Jarin confessed. “But we are still excited to play them even if this is a different tournament.”

The Red Lions were led by the 13 markers of transferee Robert Bolick and FSA Donald Tankoua. Tankoua managed to claim a double-double with 11 boards, while Bolick was an efficient 5/8 from the field. Dan Sara was able to fight off foul trouble in scoring 12 points as well.

For the Engineers, Jemuel Namocatcat led all scorers with 17 points. He almost notched a triple-double, grabbing seven boards and dishing out seven dimes as well. TIP revelation Joey Napoles added 15 points but was just 6/16 from the field.

As a team, San Beda shot at a high clip, 47%, compared to just 38% by their opponents. However, the Red Lions were out-rebounded, 47-45, and committed 26 turnovers that led to the close encounter.

The Scores:
SBC (79) – Bolick 13, Tankoua 13, Sara 12, Potts 11, Noah 11, Tongco 7, Mocon 4, Soberano 3, Oftana 3, Bonsubre 2, Presbitero 0, Carlos 0, Cabanag 0, Sedillo 0, Adamos 0.
TIP (77) – Namocatcat 17, Napoles 15, Tumaliip 10, Benavides 10, Alcober 8, Ibanes 6, Akrupu 5, Roldan 4, Gadon 2, Okoronkwo 0, Lara 0.
Quarterscores: 25-15, 49-29, 66-54, 79-77.

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