(Photo by Alex Alferez/Sports Gateway PH)
San Beda relied on a late push as it overcame a furious Mapua comeback and hacked out a 75-65 victory to regain the solo lead in the 91st NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City yesterday.
Arthur dela Cruz, Baser Amer and Ola Adeogun fired 17, 15 and 12 points, respectively, including a combined 13 points in the stretch when the Lions pulled away and clinched their 12th win against five defeats to jump to the top.
The win also clinched the reigning five-peat champion at least a playoff for a Final Four berth and closer to clinching one of the top two seeds that would ensure it a twice-to-beat advantage.
“We lost our composure for a while, but good thing we regained it in time to get this win,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin.
The Lions roared to a mighty start and built an early 38-16 lead, their biggest in the game, and appeared headed to blowing out the Cardinals.
But Mapua slowly but surely clawed its way back and even sliced it to just a point, 60-61, midway in the final canto on a Josan Nimes basket.
It turned out the last as dela Cruz, Amer and Adeogun conspired to finish off Mapua, which saw its six-game streak end to fall in a tie with Jose Rizal at fifth with 10-6 (win-loss) records.
SBC (75) – Dela Cruz 17, Amer 15, Tankoua 12, Tongco 12, Koga 10, Adeogun 7, Mocon 2, Cabanag 0, Soberano 0, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0.
MIT (65) – Oraeme 15, Menina 15, Nieles 10, Nimes 9, Braña 6, Serrano 4, Isit 2, Aguirre 2, Raflores 2, Biteng 0.
Quarterscores: 23-12, 41-26, 58-48, 75-65