With skipper Dan Sara out with a fractured finger, a pair of San Beda guards rose to the occasion on Tuesday.
Radge Tongco and AC Soberano came up with sterling offensive performances as the Red Lions cruised past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals 91-76 to claim a share of the lead in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan.
Tongco, the team’s co-captain, fired a personal season-high of 22 markers on 9-of-12 shooting from the field while Soberano broke out of his shooting slump, drilling in five triples for a 21-point output, as host San Beda streaked to its third win, tying fellow undefeated Mapua atop the 10-team field.
“We shot well today,” beamed San Beda coach Jamike Jarin during the post-match press conference, with Tongco and Soberano sitting beside him. “These two shot the ball well that’s why we were able to really get away from EAC.”
While they turned the ball over 29 times, the Red Lions enjoyed a big 62-42 edge in rebounding, including 27 on the offensive end, while outplaying the Generals throughout, leading by as many as 21 points during another big run in the third.
“We were hitting our shots. Both of them were playing together most of the time. It opens up a lot for everybody. But you also have to credit the team’s defense,” said Jarin.
Tongco said he really put into his heart the need to serve as the Red Lions’ leader in the absence of Sara, who could be out anew on Friday against St. Benilde.
“I was stepping up for Dan. That’s why I’m the co-captain. When the captain is not around, you have to be the leader of the team,” he said. “It doesn’t mean scoring lang. So long as I’m helping the team in every situation, that’s fine with coach.”
Soberano said he’s grateful to his teammates who continue to believe in him despite his shooting struggles in their first two wins. “Kahit two games na off ako, may tiwala sila at andu’n pa rin ‘yung kumpyansa nila sa akin,” he said.
Cameroonian import Hamadou Laminou tallied 18 points, nine rebounds and four blocks while four other teammates scored at least 10 but they still could not prevent the Generals from absorbing their second straight setback for a 1-2 mark.
SAN BEDA (91) – Tongco 22, Soberano 21, Potts 13, Presbitero 8, Mocon 7, Bolick 5, Tankoua 4, Oftana 4, Alas 4, Noah 2, Bonsubre 1, Navarro 0, Carlos 0, Adamos 0
EAC (76) – Laminou 18, Munsayac 13, Onwubere 12, Morada 11, King 10, Pascua 7, Corilla 3, Diego 2, Mendoza 0, Aguas 0, Guzman 0, Neri 0, Serrano 0, Estacio 0, General 0
Quarterscores: 20-13, 40-34, 71-53, 91-76.