IN a battle between the league’s top defensive teams, it was offense that proved crucial and sparked the breakaway.
San Beda leaned on a strong offensive start to roll past Jose Rizal University, 68-54, and gain a piece of the lead in NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
A 14-2 blast to start the game practically did the job for the three-time defending champion Red Lions, who maintained a double-digit cushion en route to their ninth victory in 11 games, tying archrival Letran at the top.
“It was not as dominant as you see it,” said Lions coach Boyet Fernandez, whose wards still committed 21 turnovers that translated to 16 turnover points for the Bombers.
Nigerian slotman Ola Adeogun anchored the Lions on both ends, tallying a second straight double-double of 20 points and 10 boards, along with two blocks.
“I just want to play defense and get rebounds. But the scoring keeps coming, so I’m taking it,” Adeogun said. “I just give credit to coach, who believes in me and all of us.”
The Lions limited the Bombers to a paltry 29-percent shooting from the field and built a lead as many as 18 points late in the third quarter after two charities by Jaypee Mendoza that made it 54-36.
The Heavy Bombers mounted a late 9-2 run, capped by a Marco Balagtas three-point play, that pulled them to within 51-60 with over one minute remaining in the game. But it proved too little too late as they dropped below .500 with a 5-6 win-loss card.
Balagtas finished with a team-high 16 points with six boards, but former Red Lion Paolo Pontejos could only muster five points on four attempts.
SBC (68) – Adeogun 20, Amer 15, Dela Rosa 11, A. Semerad 5, Dela Cruz 5, Koga 4, Mendoza 2, D. Semerad 2, Pascual 2, Ludovice 2, Abarcar 0, Sara 0.
JRU (54) – Balagtas 16, Paniamogan 14, Mabulac 6, Pontejos 5, Dela Paz 5, Abanto 4, Lasquety 2, Juanico 2, Salaveria 0, Gozum 0, Grospe 0, Benavides 0, Sanchez 0.
Quarterscores: 18-11; 35-21; 54-36; 68-54.