MANILA, Philippines – The San Beda Red Lions capped off a masterful NCAA Season 95 eliminations run with an 85-62 drubbing of the Lyceum Pirates to clinch an outright finals berth in men’s basketball at the Filoil Flying V Centre on Thursday, October 17.
With the win, the Red Lion young guns completed an 18-0 season sweep, their first since going 16-0 in Season 86.
“It’s a little bit of fulfillment on my part that we got this achievement,” said multi-titled head coach Boyet Fernandez after the Red Lions booked their 14th straight championship berth.
“My job is not yet done. Our job is not yet done.”
Donald Tankoua finished the game with a season-high 26 points and 8 rebounds while Calvin Oftana, the leading MVP candidate, chipped in an 18-marker, 10-board double-double in the easy win.
While San Beda jumped straight to the finals, Lyceum – which finished with a second-best 13-5 record – lost its twice-to-beat advantage and will go through a stepladder semifinals.
After a back-and-forth 1st quarter, the four-peat seeking Red Lions quickly showed why they are the kings of NCAA basketball after a massive 18-3 run to clinch a 20-point lead, 46-26, off a Tankoua and-one.
The Pirates only got as near as 11, 40-51, at the start of the 3rd before Oftana again pushed the gap to 20, 62-42, off a triple at the 3:53 mark.
San Beda kept this pace up until the final frame and led as high as 25, 85-60, in the waning seconds of the game off a split Tankoua trip at the line.
Jaycee Marcelino paced Lyceum in the losing effort with 17 points and 4 boards as Cameroonian big man Mike Nzeusseu sat out after aggravating his right hand injury.
Letran secures 3rd spot
In the curtain-raiser, the Letran Knights clinched the 3rd seed with an 87-79 win against the also-ran EAC Generals.
The Knights finished the season with a 12-6 record, just one win below their 13-5 finish the year prior.
After being down by as many as 21 points in the 2nd quarter, 18-39, Letran got its bearings back with a 3rd quarter push that got them ahead, 56-55, heading into the 4th.
They then made a crucial 11-0 run for a 73-61 lead midway through the final frame off the efforts of Bonbon Batiller and team captain Jerrick Balanza.
EAC only got as near as 6 points after an 8-2 response, 69-75, capped by a Jethro Mendoza triple before Batiller again made it a 10-point game, 81-71, after a layup at the 2:40 mark.
Balanza then sealed the deal with 4 straight free throws for a 12-point advantage, 83-71, with a minute to spare in regulation.
Big man Larry Muyang erupted for a monster 22-point, 11-rebound double-double off the bench while Balanza added 20 markers, 4 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals.
On the other end, Jethro Mendoza capped off his collegiate career fittingly enough with a career-high 26 points on a 10-of-18 shooting in the losing effort.
JP Maguliano added 13 markers and 9 boards as the only other General in double-figures.
The Generals bottomed out at 4-14 despite big wins against contenders like Lyceum and San Sebastian.
Playoff action gets going on Tuesday, November 5.
Letran 87 - Muyang 22, Balanza 20, Batiller 15, Yu 10, Ular 8, Ambohot 6, Reyson 4, Mina 2, Caralipio 0, Balagasay 0, Sangalang 0, Pambid 0.
EAC 79 - Mendoza 26, Maguliano 13, Gurtiza 9, Taywan 8, De Guzman 6, Luciano 6, Estacio 4, Corilla 3, Martin 3, Cadua 1, Gonzales 0, Carlos 0, Boffa 0.
Quarters: 14-25, 30-41, 56-55, 87-79.
San Beda 85 – Tankoua 26, Oftana 18, Canlas 17, Doliguez 5, Soberano 5, Abuda 5, Nelle 4, Carino 4, Bahio 1, Alfaro 0.
Lyceum 62 – Marcelino JC 17, Santos 12, Guinto 6, Navarro 6, Valdez 6, Remulla 5, Caduyac 4, Ibanez 4, Marcelino JV 2, David 0, Tansingco 0, Yong 0.
Quarters: 20-17, 48-36, 66-49, 85-62.