San Beda College (SBC) bucked a sluggish start as it ripped Jose Rizal University (JRU), 80-64, to cruise into the finals of the 11th FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup on Friday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Trailing behind by five, 12-17, at the end of the first quarter, the Red Lions outgunned the Heavy Bombers throughout the rest of the 40-minute contest as they returned to the championship match after missing for the first time the Final Four cut of the Premier Cup last year.
They will meet De La Salle University, which scored a 100-99 squeaker over the pesky Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) in the other semifinal encounter.
“I’m happy that we made it this far,” beamed San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez, whose team heads to the finals with an unbeaten record in 10 games.
Robert Bolick fired on all cylinders as he wound up with 22 points on top of six assists while Arnaud Noah and AC Soberano chipped in 16 and 14 markers respectively for the Red Lions.
Ervin Grospe paced the Heavy Bombers with 17 points and five rebounds while Abdel Poutouochi contributed 12 markers to go with seven boards.
SBC’s game plan worked effectively on JRU’s main man Teytey Teodoro, who only scored nine markers after a 23-point explosion in the quarterfinals.
“If we can take Teytey out of the picture then we have a good chance of winning against JRU,” said Fernandez.
Following a slow opening period, Soberano caught fire at the onset of the second frame as he ignited an 11-0 run highlighted by three triples en route to a 33-29 lead for San Beda at halftime.
The defending NCAA champion’s advantage ballooned to 13 points, 45-32, midway the third quarter with Bolick attacking the Bombers’ sloppy interior defense.
Potouchi and Teodoro sparked a 10-1 exchange as JRU moved to within four, 44-48, but a Noah-led SBC responded with an 8-3 rally for a 56-47 cushion going into the final frame.
Noah hit a shot clock buzzer-beating shot from way outside as the Red Lions blazed to their biggest lead in the game, 76-57, with 2:57 remaining to practically seal the first finals berth.
Meanwhile, Leonard Santillan completed a three-point play with 10 ticks left as Green Archers avoided a major collapse against the hard-fighting Pirates.
La Salle’s Aljun Melecio pumped in 30 points while Ricci Rivero and Ben Mbala added huge numbers of 27 and 26 markers respectively for the reigning preseason titlist.
CJ Perez stuffed the stat sheet with 24 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and six steals for the Pirates, who turned out to be the tourney’s dark horse.
In the juniors semifinals, Mapua-Malayan upended National University, 72-67, while Ateneo de Manila University thumped University of Sto. Tomas, 79-67. JEREMIAH M. SEVILLA