San Beda’s Bolick: From heel to hero
After nailing a title for San Beda last June, Robert Bolick lifted the Red Lions to within a win of the coveted NCAA title with a come-from-behind 94-87 victory over the hitherto unbeaten Lyceum Pirates in the opener of their best-of-three showdown Friday.
Atoning for a missed free throw that allowed the Pirates to escape with a double overtime victory and complete an 18-game unbeaten sweep of the eliminations last month, Bolick redeemed himself big time by firing nine of San Beda’s last 11 points in the last two minutes to eventually destroy Lyceum’s myth of invincibility.
The Pirates, who lost a 57-45 lead early in the third quarter, remained in the thick of the fight at 82-83 when the 6-foot-1 Bolick came up with an eight-point blast that all but settled the issue. A three-pointer off the glass ignited the splurge then he added three free throws and a layup before Lyceum could respond with a meaningless five-point cluster that made it 91-87 with only 20 seconds left.
In converting his free throws after getting fouled from the three-point area, Bolick wiped out the painful memory of his charity split that kept the Pirates alive in their second meeting with the Lions in the eliminations last Oct. 19. With Bolick’s second free throw miss, Lyceum went on to forge a 97-97 tie for a second extension and finally won, 107-105.
Before taking the game over, Donald Tankoua kept the Lions in the fight to finish with 27 points, 17 of them in the second half. Bolick wound up with 24. CJ Perez, named the season’s Most Valuable Player before the game, paced Lyceum with 25.
Bolick, who fired the triple that gave San Beda a 75-72 win over defending champion La Salle in their Filoil Flying V Premier Cup title clash in the preseason, will try to give the Lions a 10th title in the last 12 years with another win this Thursday.
Meanwhile, the same unbeaten sweep of the eliminations was also the target of the Ateneo Eagles (13-0) in their much-awaited rematch with the defending champion De La Salle Archers (11-2) in a game going on at presstime that will close out the UAAP two-round preliminaries.
A win gives Ateneo an outright seat in the best-of-three finals with La Salle, Adamson and Far Eastern going through the stepladder semifinals. In this case, Adamson (9-5) and FEU (7-7) will first knock each other out with the winner advancing against a La Salle team enjoying a twice-to-beat bonus.
If the Archers avenge their 76-75 first round loss to the Eagles, the Final Four phase follows with Ateneo facing FEU and La Salle meeting Adamson. As top semifinalists, the Eagles and the Archers will need only to win once to reach the finals.
As for the long-suffering University of Santo Tomas fans, relief finally came yesterday when the Growling Tigers nosed out the University of the East Warriors, 88-85, to avoid the ignominy of a rare winless season. UST wound up last at 1-13 behind the 3-10 mark of UE.
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