Defending champion and top seed San Beda College Red Lions beat the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas, 81-75, on Wednesday at The Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City to reach the finals of National Collegiate Athletic Association for the ninth straight time.
Ola Adeogun, Arthur de la Cruz and Baser Amer displayed deadly form to power the Red Lions’ victory. San Beda will battle in the finals the winner of the match between the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers and Arellano University Chiefs that was still ongoing at press time.
The Red Lions, carrying a twice-to-beat advantage for dominating the elimination round, posted an early 13-1 lead, which later ballooned to 22-7 at the end of the first quarter.
A back-to-back baskets by the 6’8 Adeogun stretched the lead further to 44-18 halfway through the game.
But the Altas, who lost to the Red Lions for the third straight time in the semifinals suddenly reduced the gap to just 11 points (44-55) going into the pivotal period via 21-6 run led by Juneric Baloria, Earl Scottie Thompson and Harold Arboleda.
Adeogun, De la Cruz, Anthony Semerad and Jaypee Mendoza later re-grouped and neutralized the Altas’ blitz.
The Red Lions previously beat the Altas, 77-75, in the first round of the elimination on August 6. They lost to the Altas, 75-76, in their second encounter on September 22.
San Beda is eyeing to equal San Sebastian College’s feat of winning five straight championships in the 1990s.