The San Beda College Red Lions and its coach Jamike Jarin are relishing their sweet victory over the Arellano University Chiefs in the best-of-three finals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 92 men’s basketball tournament on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
It was redemption for Jarin and the Red Lions who lost to the Colegio San Juan de Letran Knights in last year’s championship.
“Coming from a heartbreaking loss last year and winning it this year for your alma mater, it really feels good to win,” Jarin told reporters during the postgame interview after San Beda won 83-73 over Arellano. It was the school’s 20th overall title in the country’s oldest collegiate league.
“Nobody likes to lose, so my apologies to all those alumni, people that were heartbroken last year. This is dedicated to them. Everybody here wants to win, but there are times that you end up on the losing end. It’s not how many times you fell down, but it’s how you get up. And we got up,” Jarin added.
San Beda won Game 1 (88-85) last week behind Robert Bolick’s superb performance.
“Letran had their time last year and we have our time this year. It doesn’t really break you when things like that happen to you – it makes you stronger. This is redemption. It took me a year to really get back here and along the way, I had all these young men. I’m just happy and God is good all the time.”
Asked how he would describe his team this year, Jarin said: “Selfless.”
“This team was built to be selfless. Always for me, it is my trademark. You use all your players, you give them the exposure they need, and after the season, you make a bond that will last forever, memories that will last forever,” he said.
His wards agree with Jarin’s statement.
“Today, I just played my best and everybody played well too,” said Bolick, a transferee from De La Salle University. “It is not about how many times you score or all about the stats. It just happened that I played well in Game 1. It’s all about the heart of being a champion.”
“We’ve come along way to win this title. AC (Soberano), Robert (Bolick) and the others know it. I’m speechless right now,” said Davon Potts, who scored the important baskets in the fourth quarter. “Honestly, it’s just the heart and the character of the players.”
The Red Lions pressed on despite losing big man Donald Tankoua in the middle of the season because of the latter’s anterior cruciate ligament injury. Jarin picked Cameroonian Arnaud Noah over Nigerian center Eugene Toba to substitute for Tankoua.
The decision proved beneficial for the Red Lions.
“To be honest, the reason why I got Noah is because I really wanted him to play that different positions, the four, the three or even the two,” explained Jarin. “Gut feel, and I felt that he was more ready for the competition than the other one. That was my gut feel.”
“It was really hard for me to get into the system and the play of my coach but my teammates, they really helped me. We helped each other and I stepped up,” said Noah.
Jarin added that it is only Roldan Sara that will graduate this year, which means San Beda’s lineup, will remain almost intact.