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San Beda holds off Letran in NCAA opener


The San Beda Red Lions opened their season on a high note by holding off the defending NCAA champions Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 89-85, Saturday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Javee Mocon led four Red Lions in double-digits, scoring 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field and adding six rebounds. Filipino-American Davon Potts added 16 points in the win.

“I’m just a piece of the puzzle. [Javee] Mocon, Radge [Tongco], Dan [Sara] are the veterans and they fit a mold in this team,” said Potts, who made his NCAA debut. “I just want to contribute to the team.”

The Red Lions were in firm control of the game in the first half, proving that height is indeed might as they out-rebounded their rivals 35 to 15 in the first half. Moreover, this season’s hosts out-hustled their opponents to give themselves the biggest lead of the game, 42-29, with 3:59 left in the first half, after a spectacular dunk by Donald Tankoua on McJour Luib.

“We were controlling the game but we made mistakes and we paid for that,” said San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin.

Slowly, the Knights were able to cut the lead in the third canto. The defending champions went on a rally behind senior Rey Nambatac. The Letran player slashed his way through the lanes, and grabbed fouls against the prone San Beda defense that helped cut the lead to just a solitary point, 57-56, with 3:14 left in the quarter. However, Nambatac had to be momentarily taken out of the game with 1:53 remaining in the quarter due to cramps.

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“We have to learn from this since it’s opening day naman, everybody is so excited,” Jarin said, as the Red Lions had given up several double-digit leads throughout the game. “We need to clean that up.”

Radge Tongco and Davon Potts sparked a huge fourth quarter San Beda rally, as the duo combined for 13 points in a 15-6 rally that extended the lead to 11 once again, 75-64. Through Nambatac and Bong Quinto, the Knights tried to battle back, but Nambatac cramped up once more with 2:37 remaining, while Mocon provided the necessary points in the clutch to stave off their rivals.

“I’m just happy that we won opening night,” Jarin admitted.

Nambatac almost notched a triple-double with 18 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in 29 minutes of action. Quinto, meanwhile, led Letran in the scoring department with 23 markers, but was a horrid 8-for-21 from the field.

As a team, San Beda shot 40 percent from the field comapared to 33 percent from Letran, which proved to be the difference in the game.

The San Beda Red Lions (1-0) next face the Lyceum Pirates on Tuesday, June 28 at 2:00pm, while the Letran Knights (0-1) look to bounce back from this loss as they face the EAC Generals on the same day at 12:00nn.

The Scores:

SBC (89) – Mocon 18, Potts 16, Sara 14, Tankoua 13, Tongco 9, Bolick 7, Noah 4, Presibitero 3, Navarro 2, Soberano 2, Bonsubre 1, Adamos 0, Alas 0, Carlos 0, Oftana 0.

CSJL (85) – Quinto 23, Nambatac 18, Calvo 13, Sollano 11, Balanza 8, Apreku 7, Luib 5, Balagasay 0, Dela Pena 0, Pambid 0, Sario 0.

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Quarterscores: 27-17, 45-36, 62-60, 89-85.

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