THREE-TIME defending champion San Beda survived one of its toughest tests this season, eclipsing San Sebastian, 66-61, on Monday to claim the top seeding in the Final Four of the NCAA juniors’ basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
National youth team members Arvin Tolentino and Joshua Caracut combined for 18 of the Red Cubs’ 21 points in the pivotal payoff period as the team finished the season with wins in all but one of its 18 games.
The Cubs’ lone loss in the eliminations came against eliminated Mapua, a 60-64 decision last September 13.
“Momentum ito sa pag pasok ng Final Four. Hindi na pwede matalo,” Red Cubs coach Brit Reroma said.
The Staglets, who were level with the Cubs in the standings before the match, appeared on their way to avenge their 68-77 loss to San Beda in the first round as they held a 51-45 edge heading into the final frame.
But the Cubs showed championship poise down the stretch and turned to Tolentino, who finished with 20 points and 12 boards, and Caracut, who added 14 points, to secure the victory.
In the other juniors’ results, Letran downed Mapua, 79-61, to hike its record to 13-5 and forge a playoff for the last semifinal spot against La Salle Greenhills, while University of Perpetual Help demolished Lyceum, 107-47, to finish its season on a positive note.
SBC (66) – Tolentino 20, Caracut 14, Mocon 8, Inigo 8, Abuda 8, Gumtang 5, Abatayo 2, Tongco 1, Furaque 0, Diputado 0, Abude 0, Macapayag 0.
SSC (61) – Costel 12, Navarro 11, Calisaan 10, Macasaet 9, Escalambre 7, Yong 4, Gayosa 3, Velasco 3, Magno 2, Gatdula 0.
Quarterscores: 13-11, 33-30, 45-51, 66-61.