SAN Beda claimed the third seed in the NCAA Season 97 seniors basketball tournament after a 63-57 victory over St. Benilde in the play-in tournament on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
James Kwekuteye dropped 17 points and four rebounds as he sparked the Red Lions' fourth-quarter assault that opened a 14-point lead, 57-43 with 3:37 left.
The San Beda main man, however, had to exit the game after a left leg injury with 1:13 remaining, allowing the Blazers to fight back and cut the deficit down to five, 60-55, after a Will Gozum bucket in the final 17.8 seconds.
Ralph Penuela, though, had ice in his veins as he drained three of his last four freebies to lock up the win for the Red Lions.
San Beda will now head to the Final Four where it will face a No. 2 seed Mapua armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, in the semifinals which starts on May 8.
Yukien Andrada stepped up with 11 points and four boards, fellow rookie Tony Ynot got eight points and seven rebounds, and JB Bahio grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his six rebounds in this big Red Lions win.
San Beda kept its Final Four streak alive to 15 straight seasons while also maintaining its hopes of avenging its runner-up finish from Season 95.
Meanwhile, St. Benilde will get another chance at making it back to the semifinals on Wednesday when it plays No. 5 Perpetual, which ousted No. 6 Arellano, 59-52, in their play-in face-off.
Robi Nayve poured 10 points, four rebounds, and three assists for the Blazers, while Makoy Marcos also had nine points and eight boards.
Gozum had a hard time on the floor, going 4-of-19 from the field to wound up with only eight points to go with his 11 rebounds and three blocks in the defeat.
SAN BEDA 63 -- Kwekuteye 17, Andrada 11, Ynot 8, Bahio 6, Penuela 5, Cuntapay 4, Sanchez 4, Amsali 4, Alfaro 3, Cortez 1, Abuda 0, Gallego 0, Jopia 0.
ST. BENILDE 57 -- Nayve 10, Marcos 9, Gozum 8, Lepalam 8, Carlos 6, Benson 6, Cullar 3, Lim 3, Flores 3, Sangco 1, Publico 0, Davis 0.
Quarters: 18-7, 26-20, 40-37, 63-57.