SAN Beda arranged a Finals rematch with La Salle after the Red Lions escaped a gusty fight back from Jose Rizal University, 81-77, in their Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup knockout semifinals at The Arena in San Juan on Friday.
The reigning five-time NCAA champion nearly squandered a huge 21-point lead (67-46) in the final period as the Heavy Bombers unleashed a mighty 28-8 run behind the duo of Paolo Pontejos and Tey Teodoro.
The spurt had JRU suddenly threatening at 74-75.
Art dela Cruz and Ryusei Koga scored back-to-back baskets to give San Beda some breathing room, 79-74, but Teodoro hit three free throws as the Heavy Bombers closed in at 77-79, with 52.8 second left.
JRU even had a chance to win the game outright after Nigerian import Ola Adeigun committed a turnover for San Beda at the 32-second mark.
But the Red Lions won’t be denied as Teodoro missed on back-to-back three-point attempts in the Heavy Bombers’ final plays.
Dela Cruz led San Beda with 22 points, while sophomore Ranbill Tongco added 13, and rookie Amiel Soberano chipped in 10.
“I’m happy with the coaching staff and the players because were juggling two tournaments. It shows we have a deep bench,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin.
Aside from dela Cruz, Koga, Adeogun and JP Menndoza are all splitting their time playing in the PBA D-League for Hapee.
Pontejos finished with 22 points, Teodoro came away with 20, Chris dela Paz with 11, and Dave Sanchez with 10 for JRU.
Pontejos was seen begging JRU assistant coach Cholo Villanueva to get him back in the game, but the former La Salle stalwart, who was calling the shots for the team in lieu of head coach Vergel Meneses, insisted the last plays were intended for Teodoro.
Meneses wasn’t around as he had to attend to a personal matter.
San Beda (81) - Dela Cruz 22, Tongco 13, Soberano 10, Koga 9, Adeogun 7, Sorela 7, Mendoza 6, Sara 5, Tankoua 2, Reyes 0, Sedullo 0.
JRU (77) - Pontejos 22, Teodoro 20, Dela Paz 11, Sanchez 10, Abdulwahab 5, Poutouochi 4, Dela Virgen 3, Gorospe 2, Balagtas 0, Aurin 0.
Quarterscores: 25-17; 44-33; 62-46; 81-77.