SAN Beda came through in the clutch anew, scoring an 80-68 victory over Letran on Monday in Game One of the NCAA men’s basketball Finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Showing why he is one of the best closers in college basketball, Baser Amer spearheaded the Red Lions’ attack in the payoff period, where they broke away from a tight game to draw first blood in the best-of-three series.
Still trailing entering the fourth quarter, the Red Lions turned to Amer who buried a handful of long-range bombs and set up a few more for role players in the game's most decisive charge.
That enabled the Mendiola-based school to pull away for good and move within a win of a rare fourth successive league championship - and a record 18th overall.
History appears to be on the side of the Lions as they are undefeated in six previous title series when they won Game One.
Game Two is set Thursday also at the same venue with the Lions looking to wrap up the best-of-three series.
“What a heart of champion,” Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said of Amer from Davao, who also had eight rebounds, six assists, and a steal in an all-around effort.
Held scoreless in the first half, the San Beda guard delivered in the payoff period by firing all but three of his 11 points when the Lions outscored the Knights, 33-15.
Ola Adeogun once again bucked foul trouble to finish with 16 points and 11 boards.
After gaining unlikely contribution from Roldan Sara in the past few games, Yvan Ludovice stepped up this time for the defending champions, scoring all his 11 points in the payoff period in just eight minutes of play.
“Alam mo naman ang San Beda, hindi mo masasabi kung sino ang mag-step up,” Fernandez said. “Credit again to my players, but it’s not yet over.”
San Beda (80) -- Adeogun 16, Amer 11, Ludovice 11, A. Semerad 9, Dela Cruz 8, Dela Rosa 8, Abarcar 6, D. Semerad 6, Pascual 5, Sara 0.
Letran (68) -- Cruz 22, Almazan 16, Racal 12, Ruaya 4, Tambeling 4, Belorio 4, Gabawan 4, Nambatac 2, Castro 0, Luib 0, Buenaflor 0.
Quarterscores: 12-12; 26-24; 47-53; 80-68.