Host San Beda and formidable Mapua carved out contrasting victories on Friday and continued to pace the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Red Lions sustained their fearsome form and hardly gave the College of St. Benilde Blazers any chance to survive on the way to an dominant 90-63 victory—their fourth straight—that left second-year coach Jamike Jarin pleased no end.
“Right now, we’re dedicated on playing defense and looking for the open man, on who’s hot, and looking for the open shot,” he said. “‘Yung commitment namin to one another, that’s what’s working for all of us.”
Rookie wingman Davon Potts continued to lead the Red Lions’ offensive juggernaught, coming through with a game-high 19 points, 12 of them coming in the first half where they immediately pulled away from the slow-starting Blazers, who absorbed their fifth straight setback.
San Beda’s Cameroon import Donald Tankoua took care of the dirty work, underscored by his impressive numbers of 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks, while locals Robert Bolick, Jayvee Mocon and Ranbill Tongco did enough to compensate the absence of injured skipper Dan Sara, out for the second straight game with a fractured finger.
Not to be outdone were the Cardinals, who squeaked past the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals 70-67 even without the help of reigning league MVP Allwell Oraeme, who was in uniform but was not utilized.
Rookie Almel Orquino clustered team-best of 13 points while guards CJ Isit and Andrew Estrella chipped in 12 apiece, including a pair of crucial free throws in the dying seconds, that enabled the Cardinals to preserve the victory while dealing the Generals their third loss in four starts.
“The team showed character,” said Isit, Mapua’s team captain who spoke in behalf of Mapua coach Atoy Co, who declined to be interviewed.
The 6-foot-9 Oraeme, good for 21 points and league-highs 21 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game, was reduced to a mere spectator this time, with nobody among the Cardinals confirming the main reason behind.
Without Oraeme, EAC’s Cameroonian reinforcement Hamadou Laminou lorded it over in the lane with 13 markers, 17 rebounds and a pair of blocks but the Generals still came up short, no thanks to veteran guard Francis Munsayac’s costly error and a crucial miss in the closing seconds.
St. Benilde’s Senegalese import Clement Leutcheu dished out another solid effort of 19 points and 15 rebounds that went down the drain anew. – By Jerome Lagunzad
San Beda (90) – Potts 19, Tankoua 17, Bolick 11, Tongco 11, Mocon 8, Noah 5, Presbitero 5, Adamos 4, Soberano 3, Carlos 2, Navarro 2, Optana 2, Bonsubre 1, Alas 0
St. Benilde (63) – Lentcheu 19, Young 10, Jj Domingo 8, Castor 4, Fajarito 2, Saavedra 2, Sta. Maria 1, Belgica 0, Dixon 0, Js. Domingo 0, Pajarillaga 0, Pasamante 0, Pili 0, San Juan 0
Quarterscores: 24-10; 40-26; 61-36; 90-63
Mapua (70) – Orquino 13, Estrella 12, Isit 12, Eriobu 9, Biteng 6, Bunag 6, Victoria 6, Menina 4, Serrano 2, Magboo 0, Raflores 0
EAC (67) – Laminou 13, Onwubere 13, Morada 12, Munsayac 11, Diego 8, King 7, Pascua 2, General 1, Corilla 0, Estacio 0, Guzman 0, Serrano 0
Quarterscores: 19-10; 36-37; 56-53; 70-67