POWERHOUSE San Beda College Red Lions took advantage of their vast championship experience to beat the Arellano University Chiefs, 74-66, on Monday in game one of the best-of-three titular series of the 90th National Collegiate Athletic Association seniors basketball tournament at The Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Red Lions, aiming for their five straight title, started strong as they held the Chiefs scoreless in the first two minutes for a quick 11-0 upperhand en route to the big win, which moved them just a win away from their 19th overall collegiate crown in the oldest collegiate league.
They will go for a sweep of the best-of-three titular series on Monday at 1:30 p.m. but Arellano coach Jerry Codinera bowed to bounce back to keep their hope alive at the same MOA Arena.
Anthony Semerad scored nine points, while Baser Amer had eight in the first quarter alone to lift the Red Lions to a 26-17 lead.
But the Chiefs, who are in their first Finals stint, fought back and tied the match 31-31 on Nichole Bangga’s jumper still 2:34 remaining in the second canto.
The departure of Jiovani Jalalon for five fouls with still 6:04 left was so costly for the Chiefs as they were about to stage a rally. He
left with just nine points in the game.
The 6’8 Ola Adeogun led the Red Lions with a double-double performance on 14 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
Meanwhile, Earl Scottie Thomp-son of University of Perpetual Help Altas gained the Most Valuable Player (MVP) plum for the 90th season.
Teammate Harold Arboleda and San Beda’s Ola Adeogun joined Thompson in the Mythical Team along with Bradwyn Guinto of San Sebastian and Arellano’s Jiovani Jalalon, who was also adjudged Most Improved Player.
Arellano’s Dioncee Holts was named Rookie of the Year, while fellow newcomer Jose Gabayni of Lyceum seized the Defensive Player of the Year award.