San Beda College displayed its patented winning form down the stretch to retain the National Collegiate Athletic Asso ciation (NCAA) crown with a 92-82 victory over Lyceum of the Philippines University on Thursday at the packed Araneta Coliseum.
Holding a solitary point advantage late in the fourth quarter, the Red Lions unloaded a closing 9-0 run, highlighted by Robert Bolick’s dagger triple with under a minute left, as they roared to back-to-back championships.
San Beda reasserted its dominance of the league in the 93rd season, grabbing a 10th trophy in 12 years and a new league-best of 21st overall.
“This championship will not be a reality if not for my players. They deserve to win this championship because they worked hard really well,” said Fernandez, who towed the Lions to a successful title-retention campaign anew.
Fernandez, who returned to the Lions’ den after a coaching stint in the pro ranks, led San Beda to two straight ti-tles in 2013 and 2014.
“They (players) sacrificed for about 11 months. We know that in the course of this season, people doubted us. But circle of this team never doubted each other,” added the veteran hoops tactician.
Bolick led the Lions with 18 points, including a dagger trey that gave San Beda an 89-82 lead with 50 seconds re-maining, while Donald Tankoua, who was hailed as the Finals Most Valuable Player, chipped in a huge double-double of 17 points and 17 rebounds.
Season MVP CJ Perez sizzled with a game-high 22 points while Mike Nzeusseu added 15 markers and as many re-bounds but their efforts were not enough to save the day for the Pirates.
Lyceum had a historic 18-game sweep of the eliminations, including two victories against San Beda, but was not able to complete its Cinderella run.
It was nonetheless the best finish for the Pirates, who previously had sixth place as their highest placing.
Following San Beda’s five unanswered points to start the game, Lyceum unleashed a 19-6 run capped by a Perez triple en route to a 22-17 lead in the opening period.
The Pirates continued to dictate the pace of the game but the Lions managed to close within striking distance, 65-66, entering the crucial payoff period.
The two squads battled neck-and-neck in the final frame, with San Beda notching an 83-79 cushion on Bolick’s strong drive to the basket.
After Nzeusseu pushed the Pirates to within 82-83, AC Soberano sank a corner triple before Bolick drained a mas-sive three-pointer, handing the Lions a comfortable seven-point lead with 50 ticks remaining.
It was virtually a sealed trophy for San Beda from there.
Earlier, Clint Escamis powered Mapua-Malayan High School to a 91-81 victory over College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills (CSB-LSGH), forcing a deciding game in the juniors division finals.
Escamis, who was one of the two Most Improved Players, notched 25 points on top of four rebounds, four assists and four steals for the defending champions Red Robins.