REFUSING to be affected by the “larong labas” issue that has hounded the squad the past week, San Beda pummeled University of Perpetual Help, 70-51, on Thursday in the Final Four to book an eighth straight Finals appearance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Red Lions, whose player Ryusei Koga has been accused of playing in another league during the NCAA basketball tournament, stayed on track for a rare fourth straight and seventh championship in the last eight years.
The Lions meet archrival Letran, which cruised past San Sebastian, 85-58, in the title series starting on Monday at 2:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s Finals won by San Beda in three games.
“We just tried to stay focused because we know we have a goal,” said Ola Adeogun, who bucked early foul trouble to lead a balanced scoring attack with 11 points, along with 11 boards and one block.
“The past years we’ve also had issues, but we fought through it. I think sanay na kami dyan,” the Nigerian slotman added.
It was see-saw contest before the Lions pulled away in the middle of the second half, using a 16-2 run bridging the last two quarters to take the fight out of the Altas.
“We just went out after halftime and my boys just had the mindset that we’re going to win this game,” said Lions coach Boyet Fernandez, who also drew solid showings from Art de la Cruz, Rome dela Rosa, Baser Amer, and seldom-used guard Roldan Sara.
De la Cruz had a double-double of 11 points and 14 boards on top of three assists, one steal, and one block, while De la Rosa and Amer combined for 17 points.
Sara registered nine points but had a bigger impact on defense, helping limit Rookie of the Year candidate Juneric Baloria, the league’s leading scorer, to just six points. San Beda forced Baloria to miss all his seven field goal attempts.
San Beda (70) – Adeogun 11, Dela Cru 11, Sara 9, Dela Rosa 9, Amer 8, D. Semerad 7, Pascual 6, Ludovice 4, Abarcar 3, A. Semerad 2, Mendoza 0, Bonsubre 0.
Perpetual (51) – Alano 12, Omorogbe 7, Jolangcob 7, Arboleda 6, Paulino 6, Baloria 6, Oliveria 4, Elopre 3, Thompson 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Bitoy 0.
Quarterscores: 11-9; 21-25; 38-37; 70-51.