Defending champion San Beda College escaped with a 68-61 win over Colegio de San Juan de Letran on Tuesday to force a rubber match in their National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 91 men’s basketball best-of-three championship series at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Nigerian Ola Adeogun posted 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three blocks while sophomore Javee Mocon delivered 13 markers and Arthur Dela Cruz added 12 points for the Red Lions, who tied the series at 1-1. Letran won in Game 1, 94-90.
“It has to start from each person, you have to embrace your responsibility. Do not allow to get beat. That’s how we started out. I hope we maintain it come Thursday,” said San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin.
“It’s not because of me. It’s because of them. Preparing and playing the game right. Alam namin there’s no tomorrow. Advantage goes to Letran coming into Game 2 so we just wanted to start well and dictate the tempo of the game,” he added.
The Red Lions survived 32 turnovers but displayed impressive field goal shooting, nailing 27 of their 48 attempts. They also grabbed 51 rebounds compared to the Knights’ 32.
The Knights could not find finishing touches as they were limited to just three field goals in the fourth quarter and went eight-of-16 in the free throw line.
Mark Cruz topscored for Letran with 21, and Jomari Sollano and McJour Luib chipped in 10 each. Game 1 hero Kevin Racal finished with nine points while Rey Nambatac failed to convert a single point including four crucial charities in the final frame.
San Beda and Letran will dispute the crown on Thursday at 4 p.m. at the same venue.
In juniors, Mythical Team members Carlo Abadeza and Guilmer Dela Torre powered Arellano University to a nerve-wracking 72-68 win over San Beda in Game 2 of their own championship showdown.
Abadeza, a member of the Under-17 national junior team that saw action in the FIBA World Championship, sizzled with a double-double 16 points and 11 rebounds while Dela Torre backed him up with 15 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block as Arellano handed San Beda’s first loss this season.
“Parati kong sinasabi sa kanila na kailangan malakas ang simula. Kailangan less error dahil mahirap talunin ang ilang taon nang nagtsa-champion. Kung mag-stick ka sa depensa, malaki ang posibilidad na manalo laban sa kanina,” said Tylone Dar Juan.
The Braves, however, need to win two more games to win the crown as the Red Cubs hold a thrice-to-beat advantage for sweeping the elimination round. San Beda won in Game 1, 76-68.
“Pinag-aralan namin ‘yung full court press. Laro lang kami ayon sa sistema namin, hindi kami nawawalan ng pag-asa,” added Dar Juan.
Samuel Abuhijle led San Beda with 16 points and 13 boards while Evan Nelle and Alberto Bordeus contributed 15 and 13, respectively.