Things heated up as the final four round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Football tournament continued today at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila.
After experiencing back-to-back losses against Arellano and CSB respectively, the San Beda Red Lions returned to winning form after thrashing the Lyceum of the Philippine Pirates, 6-0.
From the curtain-raiser of the game, the defending champions immediately went on the offensive as Sean Epili nailed the first goal of the game in the first minute.
More so, veteran striker Stephen Abriol made it back-to-back goals in the second minute after hitting from out on the right wing, giving SBC a 2-0 advantage.
Wanting to join the scoring party, Nimrod Balabat scored the third goal of the game making it a 3-0 outburst for the Mendiola-based squad.
Closing the first half, Abriol took advantage of a free kick to give SBC a 4-0 lead in the 43rd minute.
Benjie Guijdo piled on more misery when he scored on the hour to bring the lead to 5-0.
Putting the icing on the cake was rookie James Pangasian, who hit the final goal at the 78th minute mark of the game to give Nhiboy Pedimonte’s squad a 6-0 win over last season’s runner-ups.
After the lopsided win, Pedimonte admitted that his team had aimed to bounce back and will work hard to every opportunity that will be given to them.
“Yun yung motivation sa team eh, actually yung sinabi lang team ay laruin lang talaga itong game. At pagtrabahuhan lang yung bawat opprtunity na binibigay sa amin,” he said.
Earlier, the Arellano University Chiefs had retained their immaculate record by defeating the College of St. Benilde Blazers, 3-2.
It was an tight battle, as both teams released their offensive artillery in the game’s early moments.
With the teams trading heavy blows, it was CSB who had the upper hand as Gaudin Maasin received a well-played pass that led to a goal at the 10th minute of the game.
However, Arellano took advantage of a Ronillio Bayan mishap by transforming a James Ayuban indirect free kick to a goal at the 12th minute mark.
Making up for the wasted opportunity, John Michael Barot scored the second goal for the Green-and-White kickers to retake the lead at 2-1 by halftime.
At the 54th minute of the game, Arellano’s Jumbeng Gumabang levelled the match at two each.
With both squads applying heavy pressure, neither took over the driver’s seat by the 90th minute, forcing an additional 30 minutes time in the game.
As the battle went down the drain, the Legarda XI punctuated the game as Ronald Espinosa hits the match-deciding goal at the 119th minute mark, giving his alma mater a 3-2 victory over CSB.
With the win against Benilde, the Chiefs are just a win away from clinching the NCAA trophy for the first time. However, if they lose their final bout against San Beda on Saturday, they will participate in a final game on January 19 to decide the series on goal difference. But if Benilde will drop their last game on Saturday against Lyceum, they will be out of the finals contention.
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