MANILA, Philippines – St. Benilde came so close last Saturday as San Beda held its breath for a one-point win, a game that should have served as an early wake up call for the reigning three-time champion.
Instead, the Red Lions took their 71-70 escape as proof of their invulnerability that they can just turn on the switch when the situation called for it and they can’t be beaten.
“Probably they thought they were invincible once again because they won it even though they had so many turnovers in the fourth quarter and they missed free throws,” said a displeased San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, who took nearly two hours to come out of the dugout after his team absorbed a humiliating 66-70 loss to Lyceum.
The Red Lions trailed by as much as 15 in the fourth quarter before their sense of desperation put them back where they were two nights ago – the game on the line and the ball in their possession.
An alleyoop basket between Rome de la Rosa and Art de la Cruz rescued them against the Blazers but the Red Lions ran out of luck as Baser Amer’s three-point attempt couldn’t come through.
“LPU really wants to win that game. We came out really flat. Hindi ko alam kung pagod ang players ko pero hindi rason ’yon. We’re just one step slow all the time, sprinting to the pain in fastbreaks and turnovers,” said Fernandez.
“We just worked our (expletive) off in the last two minutes when we’re down by 12. Kung kaya pala gumawa noon why not at the start of the ball game.”
The Red Lions, despite boasting the biggest lineup with six-foot-eight Nigerian Ola Adeogun manning the middle, got out-rebounded, 32-39.
“Bottom line, we didn’t come to play. We took everything for granted so they beat us, that’s it,” said team captain de la Rosa, who had his struggles with just two points and two rebounds in 30 minutes.
“I guess they (St. Benilde) had to haunt us again but it’s a long season so we have to stay positive.”
Adeogun had 11 points but another poor rebounding night with just three. Adeogun’s play has also brought concerns for Fernandez.
“I already checked it, hindi ko lang alam kung ano’ng nangyayari kay Ola. I talked to him kahapon because of his game last Saturday. I was really surprised the way he played today. He only has three rebounds. Mahaba naman ang season so we have to check it and talk about it with Ola.”
San Beda, which has not started the season at 1-1 since 2006, could have easily been 0-2.
“Winning one on Saturday and losing today, the way we played it’s alarming. I’m worried about our execution, the mental status of my players and the way we’re thinking so probably we’re going to discuss it in practice and get their views about it,” a concerned Fernandez said.
“It’s not going to be a piece of cake or a walk in the park for San Beda probably my players thought because of their performance in the Filoil and Fr. Martin; it’s just going to be a walk in the park. So we just have to wake up and with this loss may be we have to go back to the drawing board, study the tapes and be back stronger against Arellano.”
Fernandez also said that he will have a long talk with his team in practice to figure things out. San Beda faces Arellano next, a team more talented than the two teams the Lions have struggled against.
“We look forward to the challenge.”