The 5-time NCAA champs San Beda Red Lions started out their 91st NCAA season on a winning note as they defeated the season hosts, the Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals 102-89 on the first game of the opener held at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Red Lions went firing from all cylinders as they jumped to an early lead against Mapua. Ryusei Koga scored eight of his team’s first 11 points to jump start the Red Lions against the Cardinals single basket in the first three minutes of action. As the Red Lions showcased what they displayed in the recently concluded tournament, their fullcourt press defense was helpful early for the squad as it limited Mapua’s offensive execution that led to fast transition baskets on San Beda’s end.
The early and up-tempo offense led to back-to-back threes by Radge Tongco to increase their lead to double digits. Mapua, on the other hand, hit double-digit scoring courtesy of the hot shooting by the comebacking Josan Nimes who scored 13 points in the first to pace his team early. The Mendiola-based cagers went to lead by 15 at 22-7 but the Cardinals ended the first quarter on an 13-1 run
Scoring picked up in the second quarter as the opening quarter jitters seemed to wear off. Two free throws by Allwell Oraema opened up chances for his squad to take the lead but unfortunately Mapua muffed two fast break opportunities. Tongco drained in two more treys in the period but Nimes was redeployed to the floor as he continued to pour on the baskets for the Cardinals.
The pressure defense was still sharp for the Red Lions while extra passes led to two more trifectas from Ryusei Koga to make it a 38-32 game. Senior Art Dela Cruz also played a tremendous second period as he tallied 10 markers in the quarter to lead his squad to close the first half on a 9-2 run and lead by 11 entering the break.
Oliver Serrano capped an 8-1 start for the Cardinals to slice the lead down to four as Mapua started the third period on a good note. Off the halftime period, an adjusted Mapua team showed up as they were quicker to the ball and good ball movement powered them to intensify their run for a comeback. Andretti Stevens banked in a three while Oraeme’s free throw cut the lead down to one-possession as they limited San Beda to 5 points in the first four minutes.
Scoring somewhat slowed down with the defensive pressure starting to take place for both teams. Offense came from transition as two fast break plays by Mapua tied the match anew at 62. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Dela Cruz scored five more points to cap an 11-3 run to end the third quarter.
A series of exchange of baskets opened up the last period as the two teams combined for 13 points in three minutes as the Red Lions maintained their double-digit advantage. Mapua put up minimal baskets but every run they put on was countered with multiple baskets on San Beda’s end. In addition, San Beda capitalized as the Cardinals entered the penalty situation early in the fourth quarter. Looking for one last rally, a 15-point lead was sliced down to nine with three straight layups, two by Stevens in the last minutes of the game.
Fortunately for rookie coach Jamike Jarin’s team, their late-game composure was able to sustain their grip late and even restore the 15-pt edge with Pierre Tankoua’s basket and free throw. San Beda was also able to make the necessary stops and make the needed shots to seal the deal for their first win of the season.
Dela Cruz played a tremendous season-opener with 27 points, 18 rebounds and six assists.
The Red Lions played without star point guard Baser Amer who is nursing a shoulder injury and Ola Adeogun who has a sore left knee. On the other hand, Mapua did not have the services of CJ Isip who attended family matters abroad.
After the game, Coach Jamike Jarin was relieved that his first game in coach a collegiate team is over with a win, “I’m happy and, personally, I’m happy that the boys performed. The players, your son, gave it their best.” Moreover, the coach gave credit to the opposing team, “credit to Mapua, they came prepared and contested our shots.” Finally, Coach Jarin praised Micole Solera on his defense on Josan Nimes in the second half, “Nimes had 17 points in the 1st half but Sorela did good defense on him come the second half.”
SBC shot 48% from the field, including 7/16 from downtown, compared to 44% by MIT. Moreover, the Red Lions outrebounded the Cardinals 50-43.
San Beda’s next game will be up against Emilio Aguinaldo College while Mapua faces San Sebastian College. Both games will be played at 2pm and 4pm respectively on July 2, Thursday at the Filoil Arena in San Juan.
SBC (102) – De la Cruz 27, Tankou 18, Tongco 18, Koga 16, Solera 11, Sara 6, Sedillo 2, Mocon 2, Presbitero 2, Cabanag 0, Soberano 0, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0
MIT 89 – Nimes 23, Oraeme 13, Stevens 13, Menina 12, Serrano 10, Villasenor 8, Que 3, Raflores 3, Brana 2,Dela Rosa 2, Biteng 0, Nieles 0, Aguerre 0, Layug 0
Quarterscores: 23-20, 49-38, 73-65, 102-89
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