MANILA, Philippines – San Beda came in as the heavy favorites in the 89th NCAA Season.
The Red Lions though, could barely come out with a win over hosts St. Benilde Blazers in the season’s opener Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“I hope this will be an early wake up call for everyone,” warned San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez, who ran the length of the court in celebration as the final buzzer sounded with his team escaping a 71-70 thriller over the Blazers.
“It’s a learning lesson for me. The boys, I’ve told them it’s very important to practice their free throws, we’ll win or lose us a game, taking care of the ball and then missed coverages. I hope they will realize that if they just follow their game plan,” added Fernandez.
The Red Lions, who are seeking their fourth straight crown, missed 10 out of his 24 free throw attempts, committed several costly turnovers and blew a defensive cover that almost cost them the game as the Blazers moved within four seconds away from a stunning upset, 70-69.
“It is a wake up,” San Beda skipper Rome dela Rosa, who made the lob pass off the inbound to Art dela Cruz for the game-winning play with 3.7 ticks remaining, told INQUIRER.net. It just goes to show that this NCAA season won’t be that easy. They won’t just give us the championship and as the defending champions we should know that and hopefully in the future it won’t happen again.”
“We got the win, so a win is a win and that’s the best thing, we just got to take this positive,” added dela Rosa after finishing with 10 points and three assists.
San Beda nips St. Benilde in NCAA game opener