SAN Beda zoomed past Emilio Aguinaldo College, 92-69, on Saturday to gain at least a playoff for the first semifinal slot in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Banking on a back-breaking run to start the fourth, the two-time defending champion Lions broke the game wide open and scored their 12th win in 14 games.
The Lions maintained their firm hold of the top spot and will need just another triumph to seal their seventh straight Final Four appearance. San Beda could have made an early semifinal entry if not for Letran's 82-67 win over San Sebastian later in the day that improved the Knights' record to 9-6.
Alternating man-to-man and zone defenses, the Generals climbed from a huge 19-point hole in the second quarter and pulled to within 53-56 after two free throws from Jorem Morada with seven minutes and 26 seconds in the third.
But from a 60-55 count, the Lions seized full control after scoring 19 unanswered points that bridged the last two quarters.
“It was a good test for us,” Lions coach Ronnie Magsanoc said. “We were seeing different kinds of defenses. Ang importante naka-adjust kami.”
Jake Pascual, the Lions’ skipper, registered a double-double of 19 points and 12 boards, including two blocks to lead the Mendiola-based squad, while fourth-year swingman Rome dela Rosa added 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
“Malaking tulong leadership nila,” Magsanoc said. “Mabilis talaga ang momentum swing dito pero pag meron kang players like Rome and Jake, meron kang leaders sa loob.”
Magsanoc also drew double-double performances from big men Arthur dela Cruz (15 points and 11 boards) and Ola Adeogun (11 and 11).
The Lions limited the Generals to just 33 percent from the floor and ruled the rebounding (53-32) and assists (25-10) departments.
The Generals lost for the ninth time in 14 games, but remain mathematically alive in the playoff race.
SBC (92) – J. Pascual 19, Dela Rosa 17, Dela Cruz 15, Adeogun 11, Amer 7, Koga 6, K. Pascual 6, Lim 6, Caram 3, Ludovice 2, Bonsubre 0, Villaruz 0, Abarcar 0
EAC (69) – Jamon 14, Paguia 13, Monteclaro 12, King 12, Happi 8, Munsayac 5, Tayongtong 2, Morada 2, Pillas 1, Mallari 0, Lumahan 0, Yaya 0, Chiong 0
Quarterscores: 32-20; 56-46; 73-55; 92-69.