Even without solid Cameroon import Donald Tankoua, host San Beda still has Arellano U’s number.
The Red Lions went full throttle in the third canto then did enough in the stretch to hold off the Chiefs on Friday, 91-81, to force a playoff for the top seeding in the Final Four round of the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Up by just five at the break, San Beda waxed hot in the third and led by as many as 16 points but needed some crucial plays from veteran Javee Mocon, Davon Potts and big man Ben Adamos to foil Arellano U’s searing fightback ignited by Zach Nichols and Kent Salado.
More than completing a season sweep against the Chiefs, the Red Lions also tied their victims at the close of the double-round of eliminations with identical 14-4 records, paving the way for a playoff match on Tuesday at the same venue while keeping their long tradition of finishing No. 1 alive.
San Beda coach Jamike Jarin admitted he’s not thrilled by playing for another KO match anew.
“It’s not a good ruling. In the eliminations, we look for twice to beat. I hope hindi na sana ganito ang ruling kasi twice-to-beat naman eh. We can’t do anything about it,” he said.
“Of course, we’ll play our hearts out every game. We don’t want to be unfair and we don’t want to disrespect the game,” Jarin added.
Mocon dished out a double-double performance of 19 points and 15 rebounds while teaming up with Potts and Adamos in San Beda’s steady finish in the face of Arellano U’s expected late rally.
Star playmaker Jiovani Jalalon paced the Chiefs with an all-around performance of 14 points, eight rebounds and as many assists but could not help them complete their fightback, pulling the closest at 76-81 off a Salado triple with five minutes remaining.
Salado and Nichols combined for 23 markers, 17 of them coming in the final frame, spiked by four triples, that enabled the Chiefs to show some resistance, only to be foiled by the Red Lions.
“This team is just too good to catch up. We listened to each other. It’s a constant communication. You have to be perfect,” said Jarin. – By Jerome Lagunzad
SAN BEDA 91 – Mocon 19, Potts 18, Soberano 15, Adamos 12, Bolick 7, Tongco 7, Sara 3, Noah 3, Presbitero 3, Oftana 2, Bahio 2, Bonsubre 0, Carlos 0, Navarro 0
ARELLANO 81 – Jalalon 14, Salado 13, Flores 13, Gumaru 11, Nicholls 10, Meca 7, Cadavis 6, Enriquez 3, Holts 2, Canete 2, Villoria 0, Aguilar 0, Zamora 0
Quarterscores: 27-24, 47-42, 75-62, 91-81.