MANILA, Philippines – Three-time defending champion San Beda leaned on to its star guard Baser Amer to hold off Perpetual Help, 72-65, in the NCAA Season 89 men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Amer put the Red Lions on his shoulders late with 10 straight points, including a triple that pushed their lead back to five, 66-61, with 3:24 remaining.
“It was really the boys who won the game. Even though Perpetual came back I still felt that we will win the ball game because my players have been stepping up every game,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez.
“Baser’s assignment was to take good care of Baloria and that might have taken away his offensive firepower. But he came back. Baser always steps up,” added Fernandez after his team rolled to its fifth straight win after splitting its first two games.
The five-foot-11 Amer finished with a game-high 23 points on nine-of-16 shooting from the field to go along with three assists but had six turnovers.
The Altas looked beat early as they fell into a 24-point hole, 12-36, at one point in the second quarter before finding their groove on both ends in the second half led by import Nosa Omorogbe, who willed his team back to just a point, 57-58, on a three-point play with still 4:41 left to play.
Omorogbe shot 19 of his 21 points in the final two quarters while the league’s leading scorer Juneric Baloria added 16 points.
San Beda (6-1) , which claimed solo second place, moved to just a half game behind idle Letran while Perpetual Help (5-2) slid to third place.
The Lions won despite committing nine more turnovers than the Altas, who only had 11 errors.
Backup guard Ryusei Koga also gave San Beda, which faces San Sebastian next after a long layoff to pave way for the upcoming Fiba Asia Championships, a lift with 14 points in just 17 minutes.
Perpetual Help’s reserve guard Joel Jolangcob gave his team a boost with 10 points, highlighted by two straight triples which kickstarted the Altas late charge.