NCAA: Red hot San Beda dispatches Lyceum, returns to Finals
MANILA, Philippines—Perennial powerhouse San Beda hadn’t reached the NCAA men’s basketball Finals in four years. Until today.
When the stakes were at their highest, the Red Lions put on a blistering performance to eliminate Lyceum, 82-72, and claim the other Finals berth on Friday for the first time since 2019.
With a Season 99 Finals ticket on the line, San Beda sank 13 triples to repulse the Pirates, who had a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
“This team could’ve just folded and said, ‘let’s just get it next year,’ but they came together and said this is still a long journey,” said coach Yuri Escueta in Filipino.
HEAR THEM ROAR!
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“Let’s just take this one game at a time. That’s what we always talk about. We also told each other not to give up every game. Sooner or later, without us knowing, we’re already in the Finals.”
Not only did the Mendiola squad return to the grandest stage but they also hiked their win streak to six, dating back to the end of the elimination round.
In the third quarter, when both teams were caught in a stalemate at 51-all, the quartet of Nygel Gonzales, Jacob Cortez, Damie Cuntapay and Yukien Andrada unloaded four straight triples to give San Beda a 64-51 lead.
That advantage turned out to be what the Red Lions needed to overcome the Pirates until the final buzzer.
Lyceum had several opportunities in the payoff period to regain the lead, but its 11 turnovers for the whole game cost them a meal ticket to a Finals trip against Mapua.
Two players from San Beda got double-double with James Payosing finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Jomel Puno joined the party in the paint with 15 points and 10 boards to his name. Gonzales and Andrada scored 11 and 10 in the victory.
Enoch Valdez gave his sendoff for Lyceum with a 28-point outburst. JM Bravo notched 16 points and 11 rebounds but the Pirates still waved goodbye at a chance to return to the Finals since 2018.
Game 1 of the Finals is set for Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.