San Beda shrugged off a slow start and dealt Lyceum its first defeat of the season, 94-87, to take Game 1 of the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball Finals Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Showing their poise in the championship round, the Red Lions corrected their error-prone ways in the first half to inch closer to claiming their 10th title in 12 years with a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three championship duel.
Donald Tankoua was the rock once again for San Beda, pouring 27 points, 20 rebounds, and two assists but it was Robert Bolick who came through in clutch for the Red Lions, who finally defeated the Pirates after three tries.
Bolick fired nine of the Red Lions’ last 11 points including the gutsy off-the-glass trey with 1:28 to go. He finished with 24 markers, four boards, and two dimes.
San Beda can finish the job off next Thursday in Game 2, still at the Big Dome.
Despite the win, coach Boyet Fernandez said that the Red Lions remain as the underdogs in this series.
“I stick to the brand that we are still the underdogs. We just only won one game. It’s not yet over and we still have to win one more game,” he said. “I just give credit to my players. We were down by more than 12 points and they never gave up. People said the heart of LPU is really big, but the heart of my players were really big as well.”
Davon Potts added 15 points and four rebounds, while Javee Mocon got 11 markers and nine boards in the win.
San Beda recovered from a 57-45 deficit to start the third quarter as Bolick and Tankoua commandeered a 16-3 blast to take a 61-60 lead late in the third period, setting up the close finish.
With the game tied at 80, the Red Lions once again leaned on Bolick, who exuded veteran poise and drained the crucial buckets.
Newly minted Most Valuable Player CJ Perez fired 25 points, eight rebounds, and two assists, while Mythical Team member Mike Nzeusseu got 14 markers and eight boards.
The two were instrumental in the Pirates’ last ditch rally as they cut the 91-82 deficit with 35 seconds remaining to just four, 91-87, with 20.2 left before Bolick and Potts canned the insurance freebies to seal the game shut.
SAN BEDA 94 – Tankoua 27, Bolick 24, Potts 15, Mocon 11, Soberano 9, Tongco 4, Doliguez 2, Noah 2, Abuda 0, Presbitero 0, Adamos 0.
LYCEUM 87 – Perez 25, Nzeusseu 14, Ayaay 11, Caduyac 9, Jv. Marcelino 8, Jc. Marcelino 6, Ibañez 6, Santos 5, Pretta 3, Serrano 0, Baltazar 0.
Quarters: 22-21, 45-50, 64-64, 94-87.