Coming of age
For San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, nothing can be more gratifying than seeing his former rookies morph into battle-tested veterans who can take over games when the need arises.
That’s why the multititled mentor was beaming with pride Monday after sophomores James Canlas and Evan Nelle powered the Red Lions past the Far Eastern U Tamaraws, 60-52, and into the semifinals of the FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup in San Juan.
“I’m happy with their development,” said Fernandez, after Canlas and Nelle combined for 29 points for the Lions. “They are young players, but with more games, especially during the PBA D-League, we are seeing their maturity.”
The win set up the three-time defending NCAA champion Lions to a semifinal duel with the Adamson Falcons, who pounced on a depleted San Sebastian squad, 81-61.
The other semifinal duel on Thursday pits NCAA losing finalist Lyceum and UAAP powerhouse De La Salle.
The shorthanded Pirates nearly wasted a 17-point lead before preserving a 76-69 triumph over Centro Escolar University, while the Green Archers shook off a slow start to pummel the Letran Knights, 80-69.
Encho Serrano finished with 18 points and Andrei Caracut added 15 for La Salle, which outscored Letran, 45-32, in the second half.
Missing key players like Mike Nzeusseu and Jerwin Guinto, the Pirates suffered another blow when Jaycee Marcelino had to leave the game in the second period after he was inadvertently elbowed by CEU’s Malik Diouf.
But Marcelino’s twin brother, JV, came up with a key steal and a basket down the stretch as the Pirates survived a late onslaught by the Scorpions, who even took the lead, 67-65, with three minutes remaining.
Alvin Baetiong also stepped up with 13 points and five rebounds for coach Topex Robinson’s squad.
“I am not one to make excuses, but it is about who is the next man up to get the job done,” said Robinson. “It’s all about the system and people stepping up.”
Adamson’s Congolese center Lenda Douanga showed flashes of his dominant form with a 17-point, 15-rebound output, while Simon Camacho had an all-around performance of 11 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists.
The Stags couldn’t match the Falcons’ firepower after one of their top guns, RK Ilagan, played only six minutes due to an apparent leg injury.
“We just had to take care of business because we know very well San Sebastian is shorthanded,” Adamson coach Franz Pumaren said.
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