THE San Beda Red Cubs held off Benilde-La Salle Greenhills, 83-77, to secure a twice-to-beat spot in the playoffs of the NCAA Season 98 juniors basketball tournament on Thursday at the San Andres Complex.
The victory enabled the Red Cubs to win a four-team playoff for the No. 2 spot after ending up tied with San Sebastian, Mapua, and LSGH on 6-3 (win-loss) record at the end of the preliminaries.
The semifinals begin on Monday with top seed twice-to-beat Letran taking on Mapua to begin hostilities at 12 noon, followed by San Beda's own grudge match against LSGH at 2:30 p.m.
San Beda overcame a 10-point deficit in the first half and escaped in a nip-and-tuck battle all the way to the finish.
John Lopez and Joaquin Wagan combined in a late 17-8 run in the third quarter before Jharmaine Lecciones took over as San Beda pushed the lead up to 73-60.
LSGH quickly countered with a 14-4 run behind Seven Gagate's scoring spree, but, two Lecciones charities closed the game out.
"Mas magfo-focus pa po ako sa defense at kung paano namin papatakbuhin 'yung laro [pagdating sa semis]," said Lecciones.
Lecciones' 25 points on top of five rebounds, two assists, and two steals steered the Red Cubs to victory, spoiling Gagate's double-double outing of 21 points and 16 rebounds for LSGH.