San Beda beats Letran, clinches twice-to-beat edge in semis
MANILA, Philippines – Reigning 5-peat NCAA champion San Beda College avenged its first-round loss to Colegio de San Juan de Letran by beating its longtime league rivals, 77-73, in its last game of the NCAA Season 91 men's basketball tournament double-round robin eliminations on Tuesday, October 6 at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Aside from redressing their 93-80 defeat against the Knights on July 16, the Mendiola-based Red Lions clinched the first twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinal phase, concluding the second round with a win-loss standing of 13-5.
“Everybody stepped up in this game,” San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin said in the post-game interview. “Especially coming from an embarrassing loss to Arellano, we needed to take this game.”
Nigerian reinforcement Ola Adeogun had a double-double feat of 13 points and 15 rebounds along with one assist, one steal and one block, while Ameil Soberano contributed 11 points to San Beda’s victory.
Baser Amer and back-up center Pierre Tankoua had 10 points each, but pro-bound wingman Art Dela Cruz was shy of another double-double performance as he finished with 8 markers, 11 boards, 6 assists and 3 steals.
San Beda led by as much 17 points in the third quarter, but Letran’s signature fourth quarter was in full display as PBA draftees Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz sparked an 11-2 rally, capped off with a three-pointer by Jerrick Balanza and a Felix Apreku putback to shrink the San Beda leverage to 77-72.
As Mcjour Luib split his freebies from the foul line to further cut the San Beda edge to 4 points, the Red Lions implemented man-to-man defense and created efficient stops to avoid Hail-Mary shots from Racal and Cruz.
Despite the losing effort, Rey Nambatac starred for Letran as he scored 16 points with 4 rebounds, 4 assists and one steal.
However, Nambatac fouled out with 1:39 left in the regulation, which rendered him incapable of helping the Alden Ayo-mentored dirty dozen down the stretch.
Cruz amassed 12 markers, one board and 4 dimes, while Balanza chipped in 11 points for Letran, which downgraded to a 12-5 record.
Letran will have its final outing of the elimination round against University of Perpetual Help System Dalta on Friday, October 9.
San Beda (77) – Adeogun 13, Soberano 11, Amer 10, Tankoua 10, Koga 9, Mocon 9, Dela Cruz 8, Tongco 3, Cabañag 2, Sorela 2, Sara 0, Presibitero 0, Sedillo 0.
Letran (73) – Nambatac 16, Cruz 12, Balanza 11, Luib 9, Quinto 8, Apreku 7, Racal 6, Sollano 2, Calvo 2, Publico 0.
Quarter scores: 19-15, 43-25, 61-48, 77-73.