In a game witnessed by a jam-packed Filoil Flying V Arena crowd, the San Beda College Red Lions finished their elimination phase with a big win over the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 77-73 and punch the first of two twice-to-beat teams entering the post-elimination games held on Tuesday night.
Despite a frantic pace due to the electric atmosphere, scoring was slow due to both teams’ defense at full display. San Beda built an early 10-5 lead with 3:20 left in the first period, but was struggling to contain their turnovers against the defensive-oriented Knights. On the other hand, Letran located their snipers but couldn’t find the mark from distance.
San Beda’s Ola Adeogun was also assessed with his second early foul with 5:54 in the first frame via an unsportsmanlike foul but was still fielded in to assert himself in the rebounding department. On the already heated first quarter between the rivals, San Beda finished it with a 19-15 edge capped by an Acee Soberano triple.
As the second unit players were fielded in the start of the second quarter, San Beda romped up a 10-3 blast within three minutes including two more triples from Soberano. On the other hand, Letran had a difficult time executing plays and settled for contested jumpers that were not finding the bottom of the rim.
The Red Lions’ defense limited the Knights to only 10 points in the second quarter as they ballooned their distance against the Intramuros-based crew. Mark Cruz made his presence felt with a couple of layups for Letran but too much scoring by the defending champs helped them enter the break up by 18, sealed by a powerful inside basket by Ola Adeogun. Despite committing 15 turnovers at the half, they shot already a whopping 61% clip while also dominating the glass early that corresponds to their early big margin.
Turning up a notch, Letran turned it around to begin the second half as they woke up from their shooting slump anchored by back-to-back triples by Rey Nambatac. By the 6-minute mark of the second period, Letran was in a middle of a 10-2 counter while the Red Lions were starting to get affected to Letran’s intensity and crowd. With turnovers still being the problems by San Beda, they would get their second basket of the quarter courtesy of Donald Tankoua after a 5-minute silence during the third to stop the bleeding.
In a blink of an eye however, San Beda once again pulled away with Baser Amer leading the charge to install a 57-40 lead with 2 minutes left in the third. Letran won the scoring in the third frame but Donald Tankoua had two big layups to end the quarter to help his squad retain a baker’s dozen advantage.
In the fourth period, Letran once again fought back with their transition game in full swing as Jerrick Balanza completed a 9-4 start with a fast break layup to slice the lead down to single-digits. Fortunately for San Beda, their core veterans were able to withstand the rallies put up by Letran with Ola Adeogun completing a three point play to make it a 74-59 game with a little over four minutes to play. Adeogun and the rest of his crew were able to maintain the edge but the Knights had one last push in them as a Balanza triple and a Feliz Apreku putback was able to slice it down to five, 77-72 with 1:04 left. Mcjour Luib added a free throw to the run but San Beda’s defense stood tall in the last plays to hang on to the win.
“We can’t put our guards down and this game proved it,” San Beda rookie coach Jamike Jarin said after the game. “We were up in the first three quarter and even in the last few minutes but we did not take care of the ball.” He added that he gave credit to the heart and hustle of the Letran Knights for making that end game run.
Now that the defending champions gained a twice-to-beat advantage, Jarin is more than proud that they have accomplished to of their goals: making the final four and the said advantage. Moreover, the attendance of the crowd in the Filoil Flying V Arena is what makes college basketball special according to the San Beda mentor, “That’s what college basketball is all about. You don’t cheer for the individual, you cheer for the school.”
For senior Ola Adeogun, he said that this was a crucial game and everybody played their hearts out. “The season was on the line for us,” he said. “Everyone came out to play and that gave me confidence.”
The defending champions had four players reach double-figures in this game. Ola Adeogun led the way with a double-double with 13 points and 15 boards. Rookie AC Soberano also played the game of his life in scoring 11 markers, including three triples. Smart Elite ambassador Baser Amer had ten points on 4/13 shooting.
For the struggling Knights,Smart Elite ambassador Rey Nambatac led the way with 16 points, nine coming from downtown. He added four boards, four dimes, and a steal. Mark Cruz added 12 points but was just 5/23 from the field.
As a team, San Beda shot an outstanding 56% from the field. They also outrebounded their rivals 46-34 that led to a 17-11 second chance point advantage. However, the Red Lions committed 33 team turnovers that paved the way for 29 Letran turnover points.
The San Beda Red Lions have clinched the twice-to-beat advantage wiith the win and will finish the elimination round with a 12-5 slate. On the other end, the Letran Knights (12-5) will face the Perpetual Altas (11-6) on Friday, October 9 at 4:00pm. A Letran win will tie them up with the Red Lions while a loss will result to a playoff with the tied teams.
SBC (77) – Adeogun 13, Soberano 11, Amer 10, Tankoua 10, Koga 9, Mocon 9, Dela Cruz 8, Tongco 3, Cabanag 2, Solera 2, Sara 0, Presbitero 0, Sedillo 0.
CSJL (73) – Nambatac 16, Cruz 12, Balanza 11, Luib 9, Quinto 8, Apreku 7, Racal 6, Sollano 2, Calvo 2, Publico 0.
Quarterscores: 19-15, 43-25, 61-48, 77-73.
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