San Beda escapes Letran to claim NCAA Final Four’s top seed
MANILA, Philippines – For the tenth straight National Collegiate Athletic Association season, San Beda will enter the league’s semifinal round as the top seed after beating its longtime rival Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 83-78, on Tuesday, October 13 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
San Beda’s victory was not a walk in the part as the Red Lions had to escape the clutches of Letran’s signature fourth quarter surge.
The Mendiola-based brigade bannered a 41-30 edge at halftime with the timely heroics of second year forward Javee Mocon, who registered 14 of 16 points and had a personal 8-0 run in the first half.
At the start of the third canto, the Knights initiated a 13-4 blitz capped off by back-to-back jumpers from Mark Cruz and Kier Quinto to slice the deficit to two points.
The Red Lions responded with their own 8-0 run with the graduating pair of Ola Adeogun and Art Dela Cruz steering the gutsy offense.
Back-up reinforcement Pierre Tankoua and Mocon joined the fiasco to give the red-and-white troop a 59-48 cushion entering the final frame.
“I am glad that I have 15 players to work with in this game,” San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin said in the post-game interview.
Letran fully stepped on the gas pedal in the fourth period, where Kevin Racal drilled 13 of his 17 buckets to heat up the Aldin Ayo-mentored team's engine for a last quarter rally. Cruz made it a one-point ball game with his beyond-the-arc shot with 1:28 remaining in the contest.
As Amer pinned his free throws to extend the lead by two possessions, Jomari Sollano’s and-one play tied the match at 78-all. Adoegun served as the hero for San Beda as the 6-foot-9 import scored a pressure-packed lay-up with 17.2 ticks left.
With Cruz missing a game-winning triple, San Beda a hammered the final nail on the coffin with Amer splitting his charities and Adeogun scoring on a putback.
“I would be lying if I say that we were not pressured coming into this game against Letran,” Jarin admitted.
San Beda broke the 13-5 logjam and reclaimed the top spot with the thrilling victory over Letran.
Adeogun flirted with the double-double as he finished with 21 markers and 9 boards to come along with one dime and one block. Dela Cruz and Roldan Sara had 12 points each as the Red Lions will face the loser of the Jose Rizal University-Mapua Institute of Technology duel for the third seed in the crossover semifinal phase.
Letran was led by Cruz, who tallied a game-high of 29 markers with 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals.
San Beda (83) – Adeogun 21, Mocon 16, Sara 12, Dela Cruz 12, Tankoua 10, Soberano 4, Koga 3, Amer 3, Cabanag 2, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0, Tongco 0, Sorela 0, Sedillo 0.
Letran (78) - Cruz 29, Racal 17, Sollano 9, Quinto 9, Nambatac 8, Balanza 2, Calvo 2, Luib 2, Apreku 0, Publico 0.
Quarter scores: 17-12, 41-30, 59-48, 83-78.