Photo by Alex Alferez | Sports Gateway PH
San Beda College atoned for its NCAA Season 91 Seniors Basketball Division Finals Game One loss as the Red Lions vented ire on Collegio de San Juan de Letran, 68-61, in the Finals Game Two on Tuesday, at the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay.
The Knights, who successfully bagged the Finals Game One victory last Friday, saw their hyped hope for a 2-0 instant tally trashed as the grittier Red Lions forced a do-or-die Game Three face-off which is set to commence on Thursday, still at the MOA Arena.
San Beda’s 32 dragging turnovers could have come in handy for the Knights throughout the match, but the five-time defending champions worked and improved on their offense this time and notched big baskets that set the tone up for Coach Jamike Jarin’s side.
Ola Adeogun led with 14 points, while silent worker Javee Mocon added 13 markers, most of which served as the pivotal baskets for San Beda en route to the fading minutes of the match.
Coming off a winning momentum, Letran poised for what seemed a backbreaking win to finally bring back the crown to Muralla, yet it was San Beda’s turn this time and the Red Lions imposed a full-court press which focused on the Knights’ big trio Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, and Kevin Racal.
Though the Red Lions successfully limited Letran movements on the first half, the cards slightly flipped on the other side as “The Ant-Man” himself Mark Cruz finally lit up the fire that the “Arriba!” community has been longing for, and Cruz sent 13 furious shots that erected a point lead for Letran, 43-42.
But still, the Mendiola-based hoopers got the fire going on their side and they easily foiled Cruz’s late effort to still grab the steering wheel at 52-49.
Rey Nambatac went on to back up Cruz with triple attempts of his own including shots on the charity line that could have added Letran’s lead, but he failed to sink a single one and surprisingly tallied nothing at the end of the match.
The Knights still kept their hopes up and held on for dear life in the blurring ticks of the clock and listed another lead at 54-52, yet the hungry Red Lions returned the favor with their next 11 points, plus a big triple from PBA-bound Baser Amer that basically settled the outcome of the classic dogfight.
Alongside Adeogun and Mocon, Arth Dela Cruz registered 12 points, while Baser Amer had 9 points for the defending NCAA champions, Red Lions.
On the other hand, Mark Cruz led with 21 points, while Jomari Sollano and McJour Luib had 10 points apiece for the Letran Knights, who are aiming to snap their ten-year championship title drought this Season under the shots of rookie Coach Aldin Ayo.
San Beda Red Lions (68) — Adeogun 14, Mocon 13, Dela Cruz 12, Amer 9, Sorela 7, Soberano 5, Sara 5, Tankoua 3, Koga 0, Cabanag 0, Reyes 0, Presbitero 0, Tongco 0.
Letran Knights (61) — Cruz 21, Sollano 10, Luib 10, Racal 9, Balanza 6, Calvo 5, Apreku 0, Nambatac 0, Balagasay 0, Quinto 0.