Magsanoc on six-man San Beda: ‘I’ve never seen anything like that’By Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines – Outnumbered but not outperformed.
San Beda came in with just six unheralded, inexperienced players, but came out with a flourishing 81-71 victory over a bigger 11-man Arellano squad Sunday.
“It’s all about heart,” said head coach Ronnie Magsanoc after his team welcomed NCAA Season 88 with an impressive win. ”Exhausting but extremely rewarding for them. It was a big challenge that they were able to overcome.”
No Jake Pascual. No Rome de la Rosa. No Baser Amer. The list goes on.
Just a thinly point guard in Yvan Ludovice, a late-addition tweener in Francis Abarcar, back-up forward Art de la Cruz and third stringers Jon Villaruz, Dave Moralde and Jun Bonsubre.
Who were these kids? Once never-heard but never again after their gutsy win.
“I’m just very happy for them because they are 10 to the 15 players,” said Macsanoc. “Abarcar wasn’t supposed to play, Michael Sorella has that spot but because of an academic deficiency he was not able to make it to the final lineup. Abarcar was a late addition just two days before the eligibility submission but he showed everybody that he deserved that spot.”
Arellano, with every advantage on its side, started the game how it was supposed to be–up by 10, 28-18.
“Akala ko tatambakan na kami,” Magsanoc said. “They could have gone all the way that was (a) big (lead) and I thought the boys were frustrated already but we were able to narrow the gap. Our intention was just to stay within reach up to the third,” Magsanoc pointed out.
The Red Lions found themselves where they wanted to be–down by just two, 42-44, at the half–despite the Chiefs going 10-of-17 from three.
“We talked that nobody can hit 30 three-point shots. We played the odds and luckily they missed their shots,” said Magsanoc. “They were ready. They were really ready eventually perhaps they got tired. They have a very solid game plan.”
Magsanoc, in his NCAA coaching debut, was right as Arellano missed all of its 17 three-point attempts in the second half.
He was also humble enough and declined to take any credit.
“They seized the opportunity. It was a win that the boys worked hard for… It’s hard because of a lot of distractions with all the suspensions but we just fight it out [and] that’s what the boys told us and they lived up to their promise. It’s all about them.”
Dela Cruz and Dave Moralde sparked San Beda’s run with easy baskets to start the third quarter. Ludovice made sure the team sustained its momentum while Abarcar and Villaruz nailed key baskets to snuff out Arellano’s end-game rally.
“Like I said, they made it happen. It’s all about them and everybody has been rewarded,” Magsanoc reiterated.
“Breathe heavily,” Magsanoc kept saying to his team. “I was watching the JRU-Mapua game and a lot of the players cramped up and I thought these are young players and they play with a lot of emotion and when you do that you burn adrenaline as much as energy. So I told them do not celebrate, do not react you just sprint down and make the stops.”
“They were really tired. My biggest worry was when Bonsubre (fouled out) and Abarcar has four fouls and I thought if we’re only left with four players with four minutes to go, mahahabol talaga kami. But we don’t really do much except play a 2-3 zone because we can’t match up with them. They’re really big. But it paid off in the end. Abarcar hit key baskets together with Vice (Ludovice).”
Ludovice played all 40 minutes and scored a game-high 18 points on top of five rebounds and four assists.
Dela Cruz also had 18 to go along with 14 rebounds while Villaruz and Abarcar finished with 17 and 16 points respectively.
Moralde chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought of what coach said to us and I just showed him that I can give my all and be composed as well so that we can able to fight through the end,” said Ludovice in Filipino. “That was for all those who believed in us.”
“I wanted to give in especially in the fourth quarter but I thought of all the fans and my family and was able to sustain my energy,” added Ludovice.
“That was probably the longest play they’ve experienced in their lives. Some of them didn’t even play in FilOil,” said Magsanoc, regarded as one of the best point guards in the PBA.
Also hard to believe is that a small team as depleted as this even out-hustled the other for a 46-38 rebounding edge.
“What we did in practice was to simulate what six players can do against a 15 of the opponent and the players who are not playing helped them a lot. They were the ones who pushed them.”
“They owe us one and Ola (Adeogun) owe us four (games). It’s going to be a very long season but these are students. There are going to be times where some won’t be able to practice because of their midterms so we just want early wins to be able to build the trust and of course establish the bond among the players.”
“I know that they would (make the most out of it) but I never thought they would be able to perform like that. That’s a pressure-packed challenge for them. That was hard. I have never seen something like that, from six to five but they really made it happen,” Magsanoc said.