Dynamic duo Art dela Cruz, Baser Amer help San Beda cool down Mapua Cardinals
San Beda star Art dela Cruz is all pumped up. Jerome Ascano

SAN Beda came up with a hot start and finished even hotter to thwart Mapua, 75-65, on Friday and gain headway in the race for a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four of the NCAA Season 91 men’s basketball tournament.

Art Dela Cruz had 17 points and 14 rebounds while Baser Amer added 15 points and nine rebounds. The two combined for 12 points in the first period when the Red Lions set the tone for the victory - their 12th in 16 games - at The Arena in San Juan.

With Dela Cruz and Amer leading the way, the Red Lions got off to an early 23-12 lead that even ballooned to as many as 22 points, 38-16, in the second period.

“It’s a big win because you get an advantage right now. It’s the home stretch (of the eliminations) and every game really, really counts,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin.

“We were really, really ahead but Mapua caught up. That’s how good Mapua is.”

Mapua made a late run that fell short, falling to 10-6 after seeing a six-game winning streak snapped.

Allwell Oraeme had 15 points and 21 rebounds but missed key shots and committed a turnover late in the game that took the momentum away from Mapua’s late comeback.

Oraeme missed a lay-up that led to an Ola Adeogun basket on the other end with 47.1 seconds to play, then committed a turnover in Mapua's ensuing possession.

Donald Tankoua had 12 points for San Beda including the basket that made it a 22-point game. Radge Tongco finished with 12 points while Ryusei Koga added 10 markers.

The scores:

San Beda (75) — Dela Cruz 17, Amer 15, Tankoua 12, Tongco 12, Koga 10, Adeogun 7, Mocon 2, Cabanag 0, Soberano 0, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0.

Mapua (65) — Oraeme 15, Menina 15, Nieles 10, Nimes 9, Brana 6, Serrano 4, Isit 2, Aguirre 2, Raflores 2, Biteng 0.

Quarterscores: 23-12, 41-26, 58-48, 75-65.

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