San Beda University grabbed its 14th consecutive Final Four berth after shredding San Sebastian College-Recoletos, 91-76, in Season 95 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Six Red Lions turned in twin-digit scoring as the three-time champions kept an immaculate slate in 13 games.
San Beda’s entry to the semifinals was sealed after Colegio de San Juan de Letran trampled on the skidding College of St. Benilde (CSB), 87-74, in the second game.
“I salute my players for this. We’ve been dealing with problems in the first three games of the second round. But I’m really happy the way our players responded today,” said veteran coach Boyet Fernandez.
“It (Final Four qualification) is really a cumulative effort,” added Fernandez, whose team has advanced into the semifinals yearly since 2006.
Fil-Canadian hotshot James Kwekuteye paced San Beda’s balanced assault with a game-high 20 points built on four triples while Cameroonian big man Donald Tankoua pumped in 18 markers and seven rebounds.
Leading MVP candidate Calvin Oftana finished with 15 points and eight boards, AC Soberano came off the bench to score 10 of his 14 markers in the first half, playmaker Evan Nelle poured nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter to go with seven assists even as Clint Doliguez added 10 markers.
San Beda sped off to a scorching start, taking a 35-17 lead early in the second period behind Soberano’s hot hands.
But San Sebastian knocked within 62-69 on Rommel Calahat’s layup late in the third frame.
Nelle then took charge in the pivotal payoff period as the sophomore guard found his shooting groove while also orchestrating the Lions’ offense to push them ahead for good, 86-72, with 4:16 left.
RK Ilagan’s 16 points along with third-running MVP bet Allyn Bulanadi’s 14 markers and Calahat’s 12-point, 10-board double-double went to waste as the Stags suffered their second straight setback.
San Sebastian remained at No. 4 with a 7-5 record.
Meanwhile, bruiser Ato Ular drilled 20 points and eight rebounds while Fran Yu fired 13 of his 19 markers in the crucial final frame, powering Letran to back-to-back victories.
Bonbon Batiller and Larry Muyang chipped in 13 and 19 points, respectively, as the Knights tightened their grip of No. 3 with a 9-4 card.
Yankie Haruna was the lone bright spot with 19 points for the Blazers, who fell to a four-game losing skid and an overall 6-6 sheet.
SAN BEDA 91 – Canlas 20, Tankoua 18, Oftana 15, Soberano 14, Nelle 11, Doliguez 10, Bahio 2, Cuntapay 1, Abuda 0, Alfaro 0, Cariño 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 76 – Ilagan 16, Bulanadi 14, Calahat 12, Sumoda 9, Capobres 8, Calma 7, Desoyo 4, Cosari 3, Altamirano 3, Villapando 0, Isidro 0, Loristo 0.
Quarters: 30-17, 51-43, 71-62, 91-76
LETRAN 87 – Ular 20, Yu 19, Batiller 13, Muyang 10, Balanza 8, Ambohot 6, Caralipio 5, Olivario 4, Mina 2, Balagasay 0, Reyson 0, Javillonar 0.
CSB 74 – Haruna 19, Gutang 9, Dixon 7, Carlos 6, Leutcheu 6, Naboa 6, Young 6, Belgica 6, Sangco 4, Nayve 3, Flores 2.
Quarters: 24-17, 36-40, 64-61, 87-74