MANILA, Philippines – San Beda-Manila ruined FilAm Sports’ best-laid plans as the Red Cubs pulled off a 97-91 upset over the USA squad in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC League National Finals presented by SM on Thursday, March 21at Mall of Asia Arena.
Rhayyan Amsali starred with 25 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists while Joshua Lazaro scored all but 2 of his 11 points in the last 8 minutes to help the MMBL champions boot out a Jalen Green-led FilAm Sports side supposedly on its way to a rematch with National University-Manila.
"Wala akong masabi. Nagpapasalamat lang kami kay Lord sa blessings na binigay niya," said first-year head coach Manu Iñigo. "Sa boys, nakita niyo naman yung effort nila lalo na sa defense."
(I can’t say anything more. We’re just thanking the Lord for the blessings he gave us. You can see the effort of the boys especially on defense.)
The key to the win, though, was a defense that turned all its attention to Green, who still poured in 39 points on top of 13 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists, but also turned the ball over 6 times.
This was in stark contrast to just a day ago when USA's No.1-ranked high school player recorded several highlight dunks at the expense of Ateneo.
"Sabi namin sa mga bata, pag naka-dunk yan, mabubuhay lahat ang crowd so pilitin niyong hindi maka-dunk," said Iñigo. "Stay in front of him, talagang hindi dapat siya makabwelo ng talon."
(We told the kids, if he gets his dunks, the crowd will get lively so try to not let him dunk. Stay in front of him. He shouldn’t gain momentum for a dunk.)
This time, Green's first and only dunk came at the 8:07 mark of the final frame, pulling his team to within 77-78.
Lazaro had the answer for San Beda, however, with 4 points in a 7-2 run that built their lead back up to 85-79.
The FilAm Sports standout again willed his squad back to 90-92 with 58.1 seconds left only to see Tony Ynot get a pair of easy layups as well as the win-sealing block to keep them at bay.
It also didn't hurt the Red Cubs that Green muffed 3 of his 4 free throws in the endgame and 9 overall out of 22 attempts.
Ynot wound up with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks, but it was his defensive effort on USA's 6-foot-6 swingman that was his biggest contribution to what is the most shocking decision thus far in the national championship for high school.
Backstopping Green for FilAm Sports were Kai Ballungay and Jeron Artest as the former finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and the latter ended with 13 markers and 7 boards.
The 3, alongside Brandon Wilson, will still be seeing action in the NBTC All-Star Game.
Awaiting San Beda in the Fearless 4 on Friday still at the same venue is National U which romped over Letran-Manila, 96-71.
Terrence Fortea stayed hot with 21 points to go along with 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals while Carl Tamayo also added 13 markers and 5 boards in just 16 minutes of play.
The UAAP champions are entering the semifinals with an average winning margin of 59.7 points.
Admission is free in the week-long tourney backed by Chooks-to-Go, Darlington-Exped Socks, EPSON, Huawei, Freego, Purefoods, Gatorade, Go for Gold, SM, Molten and also presented by 5 Plus and Lighthouse Events. Fans only need to present a valid ID to enter SM Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com