Robert Bolick starred in the crucial endgame as San Beda College turned back Lyceum of the Philippines University, 94-87, to inch closer toward another title in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Bolick scored eight straight points, including back-to-back dagger triples, to give San Beda a 91-82 lead with 35 seconds remaining as the Red Lions moved ahead in the finals series of the 93rd season.
“I just want to give credit to my boys. We were down by 12 points at the biggest but they never gave up,” said San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez, whose squad stepped one win closer toward its 21st title in the oldest collegiate league in the country.
“People say that the heart of LPU is really big. With that 12 points deficit nullified, I think the heart of my players are really big as well. We’re happy we got this one,” added Fernandez.
San Beda beat Lyceum in rebound, 51-35, making up for the 25 points it allowed off its 19 turnovers.
Bolick had another career-high 24 points, posting 18 of those in the final 20 minutes, to go with four rebounds and two assists while Donald Tankoua pulled off a monstrous double-double of 27 points and 20 rebounds for the defending champions.
“I give this game to my players especially to Robert, who really stepped up in the second half,” said Fernandez.
CJ Perez sizzled with 25 points on top of eight rebounds while Mike Nzeusseu chipped in 14 markers for the Pirates, who suffered their first loss this season in their first finals appearance.
After trailing 21-22 in the opening period, Nzeusseu and Perez combined forces as Lyceum outscored San Beda in the second quarter, 29-23, for a 50-45 lead.
The Pirates upped the tempo in the second half with a 7-0 blast capped by Jesper Ayaay’s trey to stretch their advantage, 57-45.
But the Red Lions unleashed a blazing 14-4 run bringing the score to a 64-64 deadlock heading into the final frame.
Lyceum and San Beda battled toe-to-toe in the payoff period, going into three ties until the 3:04 mark.
Following Nzeusseu’s vicious one-hand dunk that lifted the Pirates, 82-83, Bolick responded with two huge triples and a sneaky layup for a comfortable 91-82 spread with 35 ticks left, sending the Lions’ fans to a wild celebration.
Nzeusseu and Perez sank two quick baskets to trim the deficit down to 87-92 with 20 seconds remaining but Bolick and Potts took care of one insurance free throw apiece to peg the final score.
In the juniors division, College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills (CSB-LSGH) drew first blood in its finals faceoff against Mapua-Malayan High School, 84-78, behind Joel Cagulangan and Joshua David.
Cagulangan and David exploded with 17 points apiece on top of combined 22 rebounds and 11 assists as the Greenies moved one win closer to copping the juniors’ trophy.
Juniors MVP Will Gozum’s 16 points and 19 rebounds went down the drain as the Red Robins’ title defense is now in jeopardy.
SAN BEDA (94)– Tankoua 27, Bolick 24, Potts 15, Mocon 11, Soberano 9, Tongco 4, Doliguez 2, Noah 2, Abuda 0, Presbitero 0, Adamos 0.
LPU (87)– Perez 25, Nzeusseu 14, Ayaay 11, Caduyac 9, Marcelino JV 8, Marcelino JC 6, Ibañez 6, Santos 5, Pretta 3, Serrano 0, Baltazar 0.
Quarterscores: 22-21; 45-50; 64-64; 94-87
CSB-LSGH (74)– Cagulangan 17, David 17, Marcos 15, Fornilos 14, Morales 4, Mosqueda 4, Sangco 3, Lao 0, Perez 0, Dela Cruz 0, Lepalam 0, Cruz 0.
MAPUA (68)– Gozum 16, Jabel 13, Escamis 11, Lacap 9, Bonifacio 6, Enriquez 6, Garcia 4, Ramos 3, Arches 0.
Quarterscores: 19-20; 33-37; 59-52; 74-68