In the opener of this year’s PCCL Finals, the San Beda Red Lions took charge and notched an 88-81 victory, to jump to a 1-0 series lead against the defending titleholders, DLSU Green Archers.
Unlike their Elite 8 round duel, the Red Lions managed this time around to hang on to their lead despite several La Salle comebacks. With this pivotal win, San Beda also gave La Salle its first defeat in the PCCL tournament.
The Archers entered the penalty situation early during the first period, which San Beda took advantage of. Six early free-throws by Baser Amer dictated the Red Lions’ attack during the slow first quarter due to fouls. The five-time NCAA kings ended the first with 23 points and up by five.
During the second period, it was the bench players for DLSU who provided the needed spark, led by free-throws courtesy of Kib Montalbo and a timely triple by sharpshooter Matt Salem to bring the Green Archers back within striking distance.
The two collegiate powerhouse teams countered each other with baskets but Ola Adeogun, despite being plagued with foul issues for the majority of the game, ended the first half with two baskets to give San Beda a six point lead heading into halftime.
Looking for a comeback, La Salle started its prized recruit Ben Mbala during the second half, which paid dividends for the squad. Mbala unleashed a flurry of inside baskets, protected the rim and crashed a lot of boards to totally dominate the inside game.
La Salle managed to climb within a basket and even tied the game at one point, but clutch triples from Amer and Roldan Sara restored San Beda’s lead and rejected any chance of a momentum shift for the Archers.
Up by a point with La Salle knocking on the door, Michole Sorela knocked down two jumpers to give San Beda breathing room entering the late stages of the game. Down by five with seconds to play, Thomas Torres missed two three-pointers and Adeogun’s free-throws sealed game one of the championship.
Adeogun led San Beda with 20 points, 7 boards and 2 blocks. Amer added 19, and was perfect from the charity stripe with 8 made free-throws. Mbala had a huge game for La Salle in a losing effort with 26 points on 11/14 shooting, while also grabbing 14 rebounds and 4 rejections.
San Beda was plus 12 from three-point territory while they outscored their Taft-based counterparts 42-12 from the perimeter.
Game two of the series will be on Monday, 4pm still at the Ynares Gym. Prior to the match will be the battle for third between the USC Warriors and the UV Green Lancers.
San Beda (88) – Adeogun 20, Amer 19, Sara 15, Dela Cruz 14, Mendoza 8, Sorela 6, Soberano 3, Koga 2, Tankoua 1, Mocon 0,
La Salle (81) – Mbala 26, Montalbo 13, Rivero 12, Tratter 10, Teng 9, Torres 8, Salem 3, Bolick 0, Mustre 0
Quarterscores: 23-18, 43-37, 61-59, 88-81