Crown in sight of Red Lions
San Beda guard Robert Bolick doesn’t usually pick up phone calls at 5 a.m.
But there was one call he answered more than a year ago—just a few days after leaving La Salle’s basketball team —that changed his life and may have shaped the fate of a San Beda program that’s now on the brink of a ninth title in 11 years.
The man on the other line was coach Jamike Jarin, who was just appointed as mentor of the Red Lions.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Bolick recalled. “I didn’t answer his first call. Coaches would text if they wanted to talk, but he called again and again and told me he wanted me on his team.”
That phone conversation took extra significance yesterday after Bolick boosted the Red Lions to a thrilling 88-85 victory over the Arellano Chiefs in Game 1 of their best-of-three series in NCAA Season 92 at Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-1 Bolick fired 24 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:16 left and the insurance free throws, before the Lions put up a gutsy defensive stand to hold off the Chiefs, who have yet to win in four meetings against San Beda this season.
“He wasn’t really much of a scorer but I can see that fight, the warrior in him,” said Jarin, recalling his decision to recruit Bolick.
Bolick joined forces with Dan Sara in carrying the Lions in crunch time against the Chiefs, who clawed their way back from a 13-point hole in the third period behind guards Jio Jalalon and Kent Salado.
Sara, the San Beda skipper, who has had an up-and-down season marred by a finger injury, came up with only six points, but delivered 13 rebounds and dished out 11 assists, including the one on the decisive Bolick basket.
“At the start of the season, he (Sara) was a young man trying to finish college,” said Jarin. “Now, he’s a matured man trying to conquer the world. This is what I expected of him. And I am just blessed to have him.”
The Lions can jack up their collection to a league-best 20th title with a win on Tuesday.