Nigerian Ola Adeogun powered the Red Lions’ 83-78 win over the Letran Knights on Tuesday in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 91 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena. The victory catapulted San Beda to the top spot of the Final Four.
The 6’8 center Adeogun, who notched 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter plus nine rebounds and a block, scored the go-ahead basket bringing the score to 80-78 with only 17 seconds remaining in the game.
Letran’s Mark Cruz failed to score a three-point shot to save his team during the last five seconds of the match.
The Red Lions sealed their triumph by succeeding in three of their four free throws in the fading seconds of the game.
“I’ll be lying if I say there is no pressure but it is a luxury to play against Letran,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin during a post game interview. “It is good to be the No. 1 team at the end of the elimination round.”
Javee Mocon posted 16 points and seven rebounds, while Roldan Sara and Arthur Dela Cruz made 12 points each for the Red Lions. Pierre Tankoua had 10 points and nine rebounds also for San Beda.
San Beda tallied more rebounds (52-29) and assists (16-9) than Letran. The Red Lions are also armed with a twice-to-beat edge going into the Final Four battle.
The Knights also bagged a twice-to-beat bonus.
In the first game, the Mapua Cardinals returned to the Final Four by beating the Arellano University Chiefs 93-75.
The last time Mapua entered the Final Four was in 2010.
“I’m so happy that we made it. There were many basketball experts who predicted that we couldn’t make it into the Final Four before the season starts,” Mapua coach Atoy Co told The Manila Times in an interview. “Now we are here [Final Four].”
“We made non-believers believed. If we play the same thing that we played today in the coming Final Four, I’m confident that we can beat all the teams in the Final Four. We just have to sustain our performance,” added Co.
Pro-bound combo guard Josan Nimes led the Cardinals with 21 points while Carlos Isit and Darell Menina had 14 points each. Nigerian Allwell Oraeme notched 13 points plus 28 rebounds, six assists and three blocks for the Cardinals.
Mark Brana and Justin Serrano added 10 points apiece also for Mapua.
Combo guard Jiovani Jalalon led Arellano University with 37 points plus seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.
The Chiefs finished fifth with a 12-7 win-loss record while the already-eliminated University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas finished sixth with 11-7.