Host San Beda immediately got its bearings back at the expense of also-ran Lyceum on Friday and earned a fitting reward in the process.
Firing on all cylinders from the get-go, the Red Lions roared past the Pirates, 89-73 to secure the first Final Four ticket in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
Stunned by Jose Rizal U, 97-88 last Tuesday, San Beda showed up with a more determined effort, jumping the gun on the flat-footed Lyceum as it led by as much as 17 points on the way to claiming its 12th victory against four losses, enough to secure its 11th straight trip to the semifinals since 2006.
“It’s where we determine where we’ll end up in the playoffs,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin. “I’m just happy that we’re there, we just need to work a little harder and play a little harder.”
Cameroon import Arnaud Noah tallied 22 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field but it was prized Fil-Am recruit Davon Potts and gunner AC Soberano who sparked the opening blitz to help the Red Lions seize control over the upset-conscious Pirates.
Potts tallied nine of his 19 points in the opening frame while Soberano picked up from where he left off by firing away 12 of his 17 markers in the second frame, all from beyond the arc, underscoring San Beda’s offensive brilliance that saw them make 35-of-60 attempts from the field.
Reymar Caduyac sizzled with a game-high 27 points while Jesper Ayaay tallied 17 markers and 12 rebounds, but they still could not prevent the Pirates from absorbing their 11th loss in 16 matches.
The way the Red Lions displayed their usual poise on the offensive end, tallying 27 assists, 20 more than the Pirates’, left Jarin more satisfied of their bounce-back victory.
“That’s how we usually play. In the past games, we’re not passing the ball like that,” he stressed.
While they have realized their immediate goal, Jarin warned the Red Lions not to be contended.
“We just need to look forward and not backward anymore, it wouldn’t help us. We just got our bearings together, we told ourselves there’s still a lot of game to be played. Let’s just keep on pushing, keep on running, keep on reaching,” he said. – Jerome Lagunzad
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SBC (89) – Noah 22, Potts 19, Soberano 17, Mocon 12, Sara 9, Adamos 6, Bolick 2, Optana 2, Presbitero 0, Tongco 0, Bahio 0, Bonsubre 0.
LPU (73) – Caduyac 27, Ayaay 17, Marata 11, Soliman 6, Nzeusseu 5, Alban 4, Baltazar 3, Gabayni 0, Alanes 0, Rubite 0, Soriano 0, Bulawan 0, Serafico 0.
Quarterscores: 21-14, 46-32, 64-55, 89-73.