DESPITE the drop in numbers, San Beda coach Jamike Jarin believes Art Dela Cruz is still playing relatively well for a Red Lions side that will be going to Game Two with a 0-1 deficit in the NCAA Season 91 men’s basketball finals against Letran.
Dela Cruz had relatively paltry numbers for the Red Lions in Game One of the NCAA finals won by Letran, 94-90. San Beda’s leading scorer with an average of 19.72 points per outing, he was held to only seven points and five rebounds in 24 minutes on the floor.
Dela Cruz is actually struggling since late in the elimination round and even in the Final Four with the pro-bound cager finishing with five points, two assists, and five rebounds in the Final Four match against Jose Rizal University.
The struggles have extended to Game One where he failed to provide frontline support to Ola Adeogun, the lone Red Lion to provide big numbers with 23 points and 16 rebounds.
But Jarin defended Dela Cruz, saying he still had a good outing last Friday in the Game One loss.
“If you look at it, everybody is so used to the big numbers… Art had seven points and five rebounds… Na-magnify lang because we lost. If we had won, those numbers will be big for us,” said Jarin.
San Beda had the whole weekend to get their bearings back as the Red Lions look to forge a tie in the best-of-three series to continue its bid for a sixth straight title.
“We just need to play smarter because there were plays where we weren’t smart. It cost us the lead or cost us a chance to get back," said Jarin.