NCAA Finals: San Beda bests Letran in Game 1
MANILA, Philippines - As it has been all season long, the San Bed Red Lions banked on contributions from the whole pride to eke out a 62-60 win in a close contest in Game 1 of the Season 88 NCAA Men’s Basketball Finals at the MOA Arena in Pasay, to lead the best of three series 1-0.
Sophomore spitfire guard Baser Amer led the Lions' attack with 20 points, 6 boards, and 3 nifty dimes as he controlled the San Beda offense like a cool veteran.
Both teams started uptight and jittery as the score stood at a futile 4-all deadlock at the halfway point of the opening quarter. But Amer came off the bench and put up five quick points along with a couple of nasty passes and a steal to spark a huge 13-3 San Beda run. Kevin Alas nailed a huge fire-dousing trey to cut the Red Lions lead to six, 18-12, at the end of the first quarter.
The Letran Knights pushed up the ante at the start of the 2nd quarter as they strangled the San Beda offense with tight defense, limiting the Lions to only a point in the first six minutes of the canto. Last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Raymond Alamazan, gave the San Beda big men fits as he controlled the paint with 2 points, 8 boards, and a swat to end the first half. Letran’s main man Kevin Alas took care of the other side of the court with an efficient 15 markers on 6/10 shooting to put his team up at the half, 25-24.
The 3rd canto was a quarter of runs. Letran’s utility guard, Jonathan Belorio, contributed four points on an 8-0 rally to put the Knights up 35-27 with barely 6 minutes left in the third. However, Amer again proved to be the game-changer as he revved up the Lions’ offense with 13 consecutive points on a couple of jays and seven makes from the line, while Ryusei Koga came off the end of San Beda’s bench to score a string of buckets and push San Beda in front, 47-41 at the end of the penultimate quarter.
San Beda’s bench mob, which outscored their counterparts 45-6 the entire game, was crucial in the pay-off period. Former Ateneo Blue Eagle Art Dela Cruz started the fourth with two trademark floaters to keep his team up by a jabbing distance, 51-45 at the 8:28 mark of the quarter. The littlest man on the court, Mark Cruz, drained a huge trey to keep Letran close, 53-50 with a little over five minutes on the game clock.
Ola Adeogun and Raymond Almazan traded huge buckets as both scored on huge putbacks four times in a row to keep the game close 59-57 with the Lions still up by two. Ryusei Koga came up big as he answered Alamazan’s bucket with a big trey to give the Lions ample breathing room, 62-57 with barely a minute left.
Letran had a chance to send the game to overtime but San Beda trapped Alas hard to force a turnover and essentially settle the final score.
Game 2 will be on Saturday, October 20. - Rappler.com