SAN Beda pounced on the absence of San Sebastian’s top playmaker, cruising to an 83-64 victory over the Stags on Monday at the resumption of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena San Juan.
Behind a balanced scoring attack, the Red Lions led all the way against a Golden Stags side without injured rookie point guard Jamil Ortuoste as they rolled to their sixth straight victory and seventh overall against a lone loss.
Five players scored at least eight points for the three-time defending champions, but it was Arthur dela Cruz who shone brightest with an all-round performance.
The lefty forward and son of former pro Art dela Cruz tallied 17 points, missed a double-double by a rebound, and added six assists, and four steals.
“Nag-step up lang ako. Baste was doubling Ola, that’s why I was open,” Dela Cruz said, referring to the Lions’ Nigerian slotman, Ola Adeogun, who grabbed 10 boards, but was limited to a measly two points.
One of Dela Cruz’s open looks was in the two-minute, 42-second mark of the fourth quarter when he buried a right-wing triple that gave the Lions their biggest lead at 73-53.
Baser Amer sustained his fine playmaking for the Lions with 15 points and five assists, while Rome dela Rosa registered a rare double-digit scoring game this season.
“It was really a collective effort and our defense stepped up,” said Lions coach Boyet Fernandez, whose wards limited the Stags, who had been averaging 78.3 points per game, to their second-lowest output this season.
Mark Trinidad stepped up in the absence of Ortuoste, firing 15 points while making all his three treys, while Brad Guinto continued his solid play with 16 points and 10 boards for the Stags, who suffered a second straight defeat.
San Beda (83) -- Dela Cruz 17, Amer 15, Dela Rosa 14, Koga 9, Abarcar 8, Ludovice 5, Mendoza 4, Pascual 4, A. Semerad 2, Adeogun 2, D. Semerad 2, Abatayo 1.
San Sebastian (64) -- Guinto 16, Trinidad 15, Dela Cruz 11, Tano 7, De Vera 6, Gusi 5, Perez 4, Rebollos 0, Balucanag 0, Vergara 0, Magno 0.
Quarterscores: 26-17; 45-30; 61-46; 83-64.