San Beda powered its way to the NCAA Season 93 Finals with a 76-71 victory over San Sebastian in the stepladder semis Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena and book its ticket to its 12th straight Finals appearance.
Javee Mocon pumped in 23 points, 22 rebounds, and five blocks, while Robert Bolick drained 21 points on a 5-of-8 shooting from threw, on top of four boards and four assists as the two carried the Red Lions to the championship series once again.
Showing no signs of rust from their 19-day layoff, the Red Lions started the game like a house on fire with a 10-2 opening blast and went on to establish an 18-point lead, 32-14, after Bolick and AC Soberano drilled back-to-back threes with 8:51 remaining in the second quarter.
But the Golden Stags bounced back, relying on the duo of Michael Calisaan and Jayson David to inch closer and cut the deficit to as low as four, 52-48, late in the third.
However, San Beda’s poise prevailed in the end as Mocon and Bolick put on the finishing touches to claim the win.
“19 days off is really tough. But I give full credit to my players. They sacrificed a lot in preparation for this game,” said coach Boyet Fernandez. “We lost against Lyceum and I know people have been doubting us, but the players believed in themselves. I gave them my trust and they gave me this day.”
The best-of-three championship series between Lyceum and San Beda begins on Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
David paced San Sebastian with 16 points and seven rebounds, Ryan Costelo got 15 markers, three boards, and three assists, and Calisaan had 10 points and nine rebounds in the losing effort.
The Golden Stags may have gone down but not without a fight, slicing the lead down to five, 67-62 with 5:02 remaining.
Unfortunately, Justine Mercado and Costelo were both meted with unsportsmanlike fouls in a span of a minute and the momentum went back the Red Lions’ way, allowing them to bring the lead back to 10, 72-62, with 3:41 left to play.
San Beda also made a living from the charity stripe, going 25-of-36 from the free throw line against San Sebastian’s 3-of-6.
SAN BEDA 76 – Mocon 23, Bolick 21, Tankoua 13, Soberano 9, Potts 6, Presbitero 4, Abuda 0, Cariño 0, Doliguez 0, Noah 0, Tongco 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 71 – David 16, Costelo 15, Calisaan 10, Capobres 7, Calma 6, Gayosa 6, Bulanadi 4, Navarro 3, Ilagan 2, Mercado 2, Baetiong 0, Valdez 0.
Quarters: 26-11, 44-31, 57-51, 76-71.