San Beda University unleashed an explosive third quarter as it mauled Mapua University, 83-55, to lock in the top seed and close in on a sweep in Season 95 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament on Friday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
The three-time champions Red Lions bucked a slow start, then uncorked 29 points in the third period while shackling the Cardinals to just nine markers to post their 16th straight win to clinch the top spot.
“I told them to give their all in the next two quarters because we were only up by 10 points in the half. I said if we win, I’ll give them two days off,” said San Beda veteran coach Boyet Fernandez.
The Lions also moved two wins away from a sweep of the double-round eliminations that automatically gives an outright berth to the finals.
“We’re happy what we have right now. But still, the bottom line is winning a championship. It’s really nice to have a 16-0 slate but at the end of the day, our main goal is to defend our crown,” added Fernandez.
Earlier, University of Perpetual Help System DALTA kept its Final Four return hopes alive after pulling off a comeback 85-83 victory over the skidding College of St. Benilde behind Kim Aurin’s career-high 29 points in 29 minutes of play.
Shooting forward Aurin hit an efficient 7-of-14 from the field and also hauled down 11 rebounds as the Altas remained in semifinal contention with a 4-10 slate on a share of No. 7 with Jose Rizal University.
Sophomore hotshot James Kwekuteye paced San Beda’s balanced attack with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds while leading MVP candidate Calvin Oftana tallied 15 points, seven boards and four assists.
Second-year playmaker Evan Nelle added 14 points and eight dimes even as AC Soberano came off the bench to chip in 12 markers in the blowout victory.
Jielo Razon logged 15 points and five rebounds, Rey Peralta contributed 11 points even as Ben Adamos and James Lebarda added 10 markers each for Perpetual.
Carlo Young had 20 points while Justin Gutang had a 13-marker, 13-board double-double for the No. 6 Blazers, who suffered their sixth straight setback and dropped to 6-8.