Down by as many as 22 points early on, host San Beda appeared on the verge of losing its aura of invincibility against Arellano U, considered by many as this year’s top title contender.
The Red Lions, however, showcased the championship pedigree envy of many, while dealing the Chiefs yet another reality check that they still have plenty of rough edges that needs to be polished—sooner than later.
With rookie wingman Davon Potts and Cameroon import Donald Tankoua taking charge in their big fightback, host San Beda stunned Arellano U on Friday night 101-86 to stay unscathed in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan City.
After falling behind 14-36 in the second canto and staring at a 10-point halftime deficit, the Red Lions roared back in the third canto and unleashed a blinding 26-11 closeout, ignited by a telling eight unanswered points midway in the final frame, that left the Chiefs in utter shock.
The offense-minded Potts banged in a career-high of 31 points, 11 of them coming in the fourth, while the 6-foot-7 Tankoua asserted his will down low with another dominant performance of 28 markers, 14 rebounds and two blocks to help the Red Lions win their sixth straight match.
“Every time you’re down you have to dig deep of course,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin, visibly impressed with how the Red Lions stayed together and fought hard in the face of a big adversity.
Star playmaker Jiovani Jalalon tallied a team-high 25 points while three other teammates scored at least 10 markers but none of them rose to the occasion when the Chiefs needed them the most, leading to their second loss in five matches.
The come-from-behind victory could further boost the morale of the Red Lions, who appeared to have been inspired by the pre-game pep talk given by Jarin.
“At the start of the game, I talked about how things should be done. We were talking about trust and heart. That was the game plan: trust and heart,” recalled Jarin.
“I told them If ‘I tell you to go on top of the building and tell you to jump, will you jump? I ask each and everyone. They said they would jump. All of them said they would jump and one of them said I would jump because you’ll be the second one and you know what will happen,” he continued.
“Everybody said we’ll all jump together,” Jarin stressed, putting in a nutshell the Red Lions’ resolve in the final half.
“I told them we’ve been together for a year. The reason why everybody will jump because I’ll be the first one to jump. And the reason why they’re gonna jump, I’ll be waiting for them down stairs to catch them. And if I wont be able to catch them, I have taught them to fly already. That’s who we are. We trust each and everyone,” he concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
SAN BEDA (101) – Potts 31, Tankoua 28, Tongco 12, Noah 8, Presbitero 6, Soberano 6, Bolick 5, Sara 3, Mocon 1, Oftana 1, Alas 0, Carlos 0, Navarro 0.
ARELLANO U (86) – Jalalon 25, Salado 16, Enriquez 12, Flores 10, Meca 7, Cadavis 6, Holts 4, Aguilar 3, Gumaru 3, Canete 0, Nicholls 0, Villoria 0.
Quarterscores: 10-19, 37-47, 72-72, 101-86.