San Beda's Red Lions are showing that there's life after Julius Armon.
The reigning NCAA champions walloped College of St. Benilde, 80-41, on Wednesday in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Cup quarterfinals as they continue to cope well without Armon, an explosive rookie who was tipped to play a key role for the team this season.
Armon stunned new coach Ronnie Magsanoc and the rest of the team when he decided to leave the Red Lions after their training camp in the United States to try his luck in the NBA D-League.
"Day-to-day," said Magsanoc when asked how the team is adjusting without Armon. “Siyempre, iniisip mo rin ‘yun. Malungkot din isipin ‘yun pero wala ka ring magagawa talaga.
"After a few days, naisip ko rin na kawawa naman yung iba kung ako ‘yung maaapektuhan. Kung sila naka-recover, dapat ako rin.”
The Red Lions, at least, remain dominant in the preseason since the departure of their crack Fil-American guard, winning two games by an average margin of 29.5 points.
Armon had been eyed to take the place of Garvo Lanete, who had played out his years with the Red Lions. The Fil-Am looked perfect for the part after leading San Beda in scoring in his seven preseason outings with a 12.4-point average.
Without him, Magsanoc is looking at Melo Lim and Rome Dela Rosa to fill the scoring gap.
“Melo and Rome have been contributing well. Hindi sila spectacular pero ginagawan nila ng paraan to contribute at minsan, nahihigitan pa nila,” said Magsanoc.
The Red Lions will now face De La Salle in the semifinals after the Green Archers defeated the San Sebastian Stags, 84-70.
Jeron Teng and LA Revilla had 17 points each while former Staglet Almond Vosotros had 15 points as the Green Archers sustained the momentum of their weekend win over rivals Ateneo.
Calvin Abueva was ejected with seven minutes 33 seconds left in the fourth quarter for his second unsportsmanlike foul of the match - a testament to the physicality of the match.
“It was a very good learning experience. It was really physical and I like the way we conducted ourselves. They kept their composure and just played basketball. Most importantly, we played smart,” said La Salle coach Gee Abanilla.
Ateneo beat Far Eastern University, 74-63, and National University held off University of Santo Tomas, 77-68, to set up their own semifinal meeting.
NU 77, UST 68
National University unleashed a run early in fourth period to pull away from Santo Tomas.
The Bulldogs scored six straight points to open the fourth to seize the lead for good after Bobby Ray Parks converted back-to-back triples late in the third to give his team their first taste of the lead.
“We really started slow and we committed too many turnovers and we were outrebounded. But it’s a good thing that we were able to correct ourselves and focus on what we do best which is to defend,” said NU coach Eric Altamirano.
Parks had 23 points including the two consecutive three-pointers that opened a 57-54 lead for the Bulldogs.
ATENEO 74, FEU 63
A fresh Greg Slaughter asserted himself in a rousing return from injury to lift Ateneo past Far Eastern University.
Slaughter had 29 points and 11 rebounds including five points in a decisive 9-0 blast by the Blue Eagles in the fourth quarter.
The six-foot-11 behemoth has recovered from a sprained ankle that kept him on the bench during Ateneo’s 62-59 overtime loss to archrival La Salle last weekend.
“Greg sprained his ankle a week ago and he was told by doctors not to play for a week. He is a little bit fresher than our other guys because we have been playing every day since coming back from the States. He really played very well,” said Ateneo coach Norman Black.