THREE-time defending champion San Beda pounced on San Sebastian’s shallow frontline to score a 69-51 victory in Game One of the NCAA juniors’ basketball Finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With Staglets stalwart Jon Macasaet sidelined with chicken pox, the Red Cubs dominated the paint and moved to within a win of a record 20th juniors’ title.
Ahead by only two at the halftime break, the Cubs tightened their defensive screws in the second half to pull away and maintain a double-digit advantage.
“Third quarter was the key. We made some minor adjustments and were able to control the boards,” Cubs coach Britt Reroma said.
Arvin Tolentino came up with 20 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks, while fellow national team member Joshua Caracut added 17 points, four assists, and three rebounds for the Cubs.
Javee Mocon earned the praise of his coach after providing a lift off the bench by coming up with a double-double of 15 points and 17 boards.
“Arvin is always there but Mocon was the X-factor of the game,” Reroma said of the second-string power forward.
No one scored in double figures for the Staglets.
San Beda (69) – Tolentino 20, Caracut 17, Mocon 15, Iñigo 7, Abude 5, Abatayo 2, Gumtang 2, Macapayag 1, Diputado 0, De Lilleres 0, Romero 0, Furaque 0, Abuda 0, Tongco 0, Brojan 0.
San Sebastian (51) – Navarro 7, Velasco 7, Escalambre 7, Yong 6, Costelo 6, Calisaan 6, Gatdula 5, Gayosa 3, Miasco 2, Magno 2, Malamug 0, Causon 0, Santos 0, Loor 0
Quarterscores: 15-15; 32-30; 48-38; 69-51.