SAN Beda rode Ola Adoegun’s career game to turn back a worthy challenger in University of Perpetual Help, 56-52, and clinch a berth in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball Finals Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Underscoring his significance for the Lions, the rookie big man stamped his imprint all-game long in lifting the Lions to their seventh straight Finals appearance.
The Nigerian center made his presence felt in the clutch, scoring nine of his career-high 23 points in the payoff period, when the Lions showed championship poise and turned the game around.
“He’s very vital to our campaign. Hopefully he’ll use this as a springboard sa Finals,” Lions coach Ronnie Magsanoc said of the 6-foot-7 Adeogun, who made 11 of 12 free throws, hauled down 14 rebounds, and blocked two shots.
“Alam naman natin ang kakayanan niya, pero he has a tendency to get into foul trouble,” the rookie mentor added of his prized recruit, who only had two fouls in 29 minutes of play.
Perpetual Help coach Aric del Rosario lived up to his promise of giving the Lions a tough time as the Altas led for the most part of the game.
Unfortunately, they could not reprise their thrilling 88-87 first-round victory over the Lions as they fell short in the end.
Nosa Omorogbe, Adeogun’s Perpetual Help counterpart, buried two consecutive triples within the last four minutes of the game to give the Altas their last taste of the lead at 49-47.
Adeogun then conspired with Baser Amer as the two accounted for the Lions’ last 11 points.
Amer, the sophomore playmaker from Davao, finished with an all-around effort of nine point --six in the fourth period -- 12 rebounds, six assists, three steals, and one block shot.
Jet Vidal’s triple tied the game one last time at 52 with one minute and 13 seconds remaining, before Adeogun and Amer converted three free throws to clinch the win for the two-time reigning champions.
“Expected naman yung (Perpetual run) eh. We faced a team that had nothing to lose. Fortunately we were able to face the challenge,” Magsanoc said.
Earl Thompson, who’s set to be named the league’s Most Improved Player and a part of the Mythical Team, disappeared when the Altas needed him the most, going scoreless in 19 minutes of action.
SBC(56) -- Adeogon 23, Amer 9, Dela Cruz, 7, Caram 6, Pascual J 6, Dela Rosa 5, Pascual K 0, Lim 0, Koga 0, Mendoza 0, Ludovice 0
UPHSD (52) -- Vidal 15, Omorogbe 15, Allen 9, Alano 5, Elopre 4, Babayemi 4, Arboleda 0, Thompson 0, Paulino 0, Jolangcob 0
Quarterscores: 9-10, 17-22, 35-39, 56-52