San Beda routs Letran for third straight NCAA title and 17th overallBy Celest R. Flores
MANILA, Philippines — San Beda scored a three-peat and collected “Banner 17” after clobbering rival Letran, 67-39, Friday in game three of the 88th NCAA men’s basketball finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Red Lions eclipsed the Knights as the winningest squad in the league’s history after pulling off their sixth title in the last seven years of battling in the finals.
“I’m so thankful to the players, and all the Red Lions really made sure they would rebound after that defeating game two,” said Magsanoc.
“It all boiled down to the desire of the boys, their composure and courage.”
Guard Anjo Caram concluded his career as a Red Lion, finishing with 17 markers on 3-of-5 three-point shooting, five rebounds, two assists and a steal.
Sophomore Baser Amer punctuated his series-long heroics with 14 points for San Beda, which reasserted its mastery over Letran after the 55-64 setback in game two.
Amer, who averaged 14.3 points per game in the finals, was adjudged as the finals MVP of the season and bascially cementing his status as the future star of the squad.
“Last night, I really tried to figure how I could help the team today,” said Amer, who struggled with nine points in game two.
It was also the first title of Magsanoc as head coach in the collegiate ranks, just a season after assuming the mentoring reins.
“My players are the heroes, I was just here to guide them,” said Magsanoc, who suited up for the Red Cubs back in his days, in tears shortly after the final buzzer.
“I was expecting a hill to hill battle. Adjustments were mainly trying to contain the scorers of Letran,” said Magsanoc.
But the game didn’t meet Magsanoc’s expectations — but in a good way as the Red Lions immediately seized control of the game from the tip-off.
And by the fourth period, they have stretched the lead to as huge as 31 markers on back-to-back treys from Amer and Caram.
The Knights have lost their grip on having the most titles in the NCAA, as the squad’s one-two punch Mark Cruz and Kevin Alas were the only ones in double figures.
Cruz and Alas combined for 23 points for Letran, which never got a chance to lead or even inch within striking distance in the second half.
The diminutive guard sparked a short-lived run in the third period, but the Knights got stuck 25 after Kevin Racal’s fieldgoal in that period.
The Knights’ output, no thanks to its 0-of-18 shooting from downtown, in a finals game was the lowest since the Letran-PCU clash in 2005.