Rome dela Rosa and Art dela Cruz switched roles this time in leading San Beda to a come-from-behind 72-68 victory over San Sebastian in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Dishing to Dela Cruz in two game-winning plays this season, Dela Rosa was at the receiving end this time as he scored the marginal basket that completed the mighty comeback from a double-digit deficit and gained for the league-leading Lions further separation from the pack with a 13th win in 15 games.
The fourth-running Stags, on the other hand, dropped to an 8-6 win-loss card that kept the other teams behind alive in the playoff race.
The Lions erased a 15-point deficit entering fourth quarter and gained their first lead after Dela Cruz saw Dela Rosa, who scored on the undergoal stab to make it 69-68 with only 56.4 seconds left.
“He returned the favor,” Dela Rosa said of Dela Cruz. “Art has been big for us. I just trust the guy and I know what he’s capable of.”
In all, Dela Rosa, the Lions’ skipper, fired 11 of his 18 points in the payoff period,
Ola Adeogun also proved to be a major factor in the comeback, scoring 11 of his 26 points in the final frame, on top of 17 rebounds and three blocks in a performance that helped the Lions negate a lethargic start that saw them trail by 10 points in the first quarter.
“We started flat, but in the second half we stepped up,” Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said.
San Sebastian rookie Bradwyn Guinto returned from a three-game absence due to typhoid fever and had a golden chance to regain the lead, but missed a reverse layup over Adeogun.
CJ Perez, averaging 23.5 points and 11 boards in his last two games, was limited to seven points and four rebounds, and committed a crucial turnover off a bad pass that could’ve also regained for the Stags the cushion.
SBC (72) – Adeogun 26, Dela Rosa 18, Amer 12, Dela Cruz 6, Koga 5, Abarcar 2, Pascual 2, Sara 1, A. Semerad 0, Mendoza 0, D. Semerad 0, Ludovice 0
SSC (68) – Ortuoste 15, Dela Cruz 9, De Vera 8, Perez 7, Gusi 6, Trinidad 6, Guinto 5, Aquino 4, Tano 4, Rebollos 3, Balucanag 1
Quarterscores: 13-23, 29-37, 46-61, 72-68