Red Lions escape Altas for solo second
Defending champion San Beda was the steadier team and its composure keyed in a thrilling 83-81 win over University of Perpetual Help in the NCAA Season 91 men’s basketball tournament Tuesday at San Juan Arena.
Art dela Cruz continues to carry much of the load for the Red Lions, playing the occasional point-forward role with star playmaker Baser Amer recuperating from a shoulder injury.
The graduating dela Cruz dazzled with 25 points, 17 rebounds and six assists. He already had 17 points in the first two quarters.
“They just kept coming back and we kept coming back harder. Good thing we were able to hang on,” said San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin after the Lions moved to solo second with a 5-1 record.
“Marvelous,” Jarin said of dela Cruz. “He’s gonna perform more than he’s expected because he’s a winner.”
Bright Akhuetie also scored 25 points on top of 16 rebounds and six steals for the Altas, who had chances to complete a comeback from 11 points down but blew it with costly misses at the free throw line and turnovers.
Reigning MVP Scottie Thompson added 20 points for Perpetual Help but overall had a forgetful outing after going only 5-of-13 from the line and an uncharacteristic inbound miscue with his team down by only two with 6.8 seconds left.
Thompson muffed five free throws in the fourth quarter alone.
“We really need to step up because we’re the seniors in the team so we need to show we deserve to be the leaders on both ends of the floor.”
The Lions led by as much as 11, 65-54, late in the third quarter before Gabriel Dagangon nailed three straight 3-pointers early in the fourth period to get the Altas back into the game.
Dagangon finished with 18 points but his shooting turned sour eventually and Perpetual Help reeled to its second loss in six games.
Ola Adeogun and Micole Sorela also recorded double-doubles for San Beda. Adeogun posted 11 points and 13 rebounds while Sorela tallied 15 and 10.
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