Mighty Lions maul Knights in Game 1
With a mighty finishing kick, San Beda reminded Letran why it has been on top of the NCAA the past three years.
Displaying the composure and explosive game that marked their reign, the Red Lions pummeled the Knights, 80-68, yesterday for a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series for the 89th NCAA basketball crown at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Ola Adeogun threw his weight around underneath, Baser Amer orchestrated the engame attack and Ivan Ludovice came off the bench to spark the offense as the Lions roared to a 75-62 lead heading into the last two minutes.
“We stayed with our system and kept a defensive mentality to make stops and score,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, who is hoping to give the school its 18th title overall.
“But we just won one game and it’s not over yet. We have to be ready again in Game 2.”
The Lions, champions in seven of the last eight seasons, can wrap up their fourth straight title with a victory on Thursday.
Shackled in the third period, the Lions finished with a flourish as Amer, Ludovice and Adeogun combined for 26 of the team’s 33 points the final quarter.
Adeogun finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, winning his matchup against newly minted MVP Raymond Almazan, who sizzled with 14 points in the third period after going scoreless in the opening half.
Amer and Ludovice proved deadly from beyond the arc, combining for five triples as the Lions rallied from 47-53. The duo hit back-to-back treys before Adeogun capped the Lions’ 28-9 burst to start the last period.
“I have to give credit to Vice (Ludovice) and Amer. Baser was missing shots, but he showed the heart of a champion,” added Fernandez.
With Rome dela Rosa in foul trouble, the Lions also found an unlikely spark in Anthony Semerad, who hit nine points.
The Knights looked in control after a 29-point explosion in the third period with Almazan and Mark Cruz finding their rhythm.
But the fourth period belonged to the Lions.
“We collapsed in the fourth quarter,” admitted Letran coach Caloy Garcia. “I think we played too soft.”
Earlier, the Red Cubs moved on the brink of a fifth straight title with a 79-68 rout of St. Benilde-La Salle Green Hills in Game 1 of their series. Arvin Tolentino and Rev Diputado came up with big baskets down the stretch as the Cubs held off the third seeded Greenies.
First Game (Jrs)
SAN BEDA 79—Tolentino 21, Diputado 19, Caracut 16, Tongco 12, Abuda 4, Decapia 2, Abatayo 2, Mocon 2, Abude 1, Framil 0, De Villeres 0, Gumtang 0.
CSB-LSGH 68—Rivero 34, Dela Cruz 12, Paras 11, Barrera 4, Lanot 3, San Juan 2, Ramilo 1, Gob 1, Salonga 0, RP Rivero 0, Abadeza 0.
Quarters: 23-12, 42-32, 62-51, 79-68
Second Game (Srs)
SAN BEDA 80—Adeogun 16, Amer 11, Ludovice 11, A. Semerad 9, Dela Cruz 8, Dela Rosa 8, Abarcar 6, D. Semerad 6, Pascual 5, Sara 0.
LETRAN 68—Cruz 22, Almazan 16, Racal 12, Ruaya 4, Tambeling 4, Belorio 4, Gabawan 4, Nambatac 2, Castro 0, Luib 0, Buenaflor 0.
Quarters: 12-12, 26-24, 47-53, 80-68
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