If host San Beda intends to complete its redemption in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney, the Red Lions will have to do it without Cameroonian center Donald Tankoua.
The 6-foot-7 Tankoua, 22, following a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test on Friday night, suffered a tore anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on his right knee early in their 90-82 victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College and has already been ruled out for the remainder of the tourney, dealing a big blow to San Beda’s title campaign.
San Beda’s second-year coach Jamike Jarin couldn’t stress hard enough how tough losing Tankoua is.
“The loss of Donald is a big blow for our team. Losing your best big man to injury really hurts our campaign,” he told FOX Sports in an SMS message on Saturday morning, confirming the development first reported by tiebreakertimes.com.
Tankoua suffered the injury when he attempted for a lay-up against EAC counterpart Hamadou Laminou midway in the opening frame, with San Beda holding a 12-8 advantage.
While they held on for their 10th win in 11 starts and kept their hold of the top spot in the 10-team field behind the timely help provided by rookie big man Ben Adamos, the Red Lions could be hard-pressed in trying to fill up the void left by Tankoua, who’s been one of the biggest factors behind their dominant showing so far.
Proving he has what it takes to give the inside presence which former Nigerian import Ola Adeogun used to do, Tankoua has submitted solid averages of 15.7 points built around a sizzling 57 percent shooting from the field on top of a team-leading 10.6 points and 1.5 blocks per game.
Without Tankoua, the Red Lions are hoping the likes of the 6-foot-6 Adamos, versatile big man Javee Mocon, undersized import Arnaud Noah and Kenneth Alas will step up to the big challenge as they try to reclaim the throne they lost to arch-rival Letran last year.
Jarin is confident they can find a way to overcome Tankoua’s absence collectively.
“Our team is ready to play hardest and work hardest,” he added.
San Beda will play its first game this season without Tankoua on Tuesday against unpredictable San Sebastian College which has snapped a nine-game losing streak by stunning erstwhile streaking Perpetual Help on Friday behind an impressive 71-55 victory. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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