Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)-bound Arthur de la Cruz posted a career-high 30 points on top of 10 rebounds to power five-peat champion San Beda College Red Lions to a 96-84 win over the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals on Tuesday at the start of the second round elimination of the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
The 6’4 De la Cruz, a ninth overall pick by Blackwater Elite in the PBA annual rookie draft on Sunday, also finished with five assists and four steals. The Red Lions hardly felt the absence of top center Ola Adeogun, who was serving a one-game suspension for breaking the glass door of The Arena dugout after they lost to the Arellano University Chiefs last week.
“At least the first round is done. I told my players before the game that you are a rookie this season, but in the second round of the elimina¬tions, you are not anymore. Everybody had their minutes and moments. We should be playing with a different high level now,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin.
The Red Lions, with an 8-2 win-loss record are now sharing the top spot with the Letran Knights that are also carrying an 8-2 win-loss card. The Generals under coach Andy de Guzman dropped to the bottom of the standings with 2-8 card.
The Hagonoy, Bulacan-native De la Cruz notched most of his points in the second and third periods. He stretched their lead to nine points, 44-35, by half time from a 14-16 deficit in the first quarter.
Amiel Soberano likewise finished with 20 points, while Roldan Sara contributed 14 plus seven assists. The Nigerian Pierre Tankou chipped in 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Red Lions, who proved their mastery over the Generals whom they beat 108-80 in the first round of the elimination on July 2.
The Mendiola-based Red Lions started strong establishing a 12-4 lead early on. But after five lead changes and two deadlocks the Red Lions suddenly went cold that allowed the Generals to grab the lead, 16-12, via a 12-0 run with still 32 seconds remaining in the opening canto.
But as soon as De la Cruz struck heavily early in the next period, the Red Lions never relinquished the lead until the buzzer. They led by as much as 19 points thrice—the last was 88-69 on Soberano’s lay up with only 3:24 to go.
Francis John Munsayac led the Generals with 20 points, Laminou Hamdou of Cameroon posted 18, Enrico John Diego added 14 and 10 rebounds while Chirst Fernan Mejos had 12 points.
In the other game the San Sebastian College Stags beat the Letran Knights, 89-87, to notch their third win in 10 matches. The Stags’ win also avenged their 76-82 defeat to Letran in the first round of elimination on July 21.