IN the face of a huge Perpetual Help onslaught, San Beda mentor Boyet Fernandez trusted Baser Amer enough to have the ball in his hands.
And the playmaking pride of Davao was once again quick to repay his coach’s faith.
The defending three-time champions avoided a meltdown as it rode on the clutch play of Amer to repulse the Altas, 72-65, in a thrilling NCAA men’s basketball match on Saturday at the jampacked San Juan Arena.
Amer almost singlehandedly veered the Red Lions away from harm as he buried the key baskets down the stretch that held off the Altas’ furious fightback from a double-digit deficit.
The heady San Beda guard finished with a game-high 23 points, including 10 straight in the payoff period for the Lions, who endured their first down-the-wire finish after four straight blowout victories.
“Baser can step up anytime, any day,” Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said. “But I cannot take away the effort of Perpetual for the adjustments they made.”
The Lions stretched their winning streak to five games and improved to a 6-1 win-loss card overall to break a tie at second place with their victims.
The three-time defending champions also drew significant contribution from back-up guard Ryusei Koga, who provided the spark by scoring 11 of his 14 points in the first half when the Lions enjoyed their biggest lead at 36-12.
Behind Nicholas Omorogbe, Juneric Baloria, and Joel Jolangcob, the Altas however, climbed from a 27-45 hole and came to within two points, 61-63, with less than four minutes remaining in the game.
But the Altas could not come closer from there as they lost only for the second time in seven outings.
San Beda (72) -- Amer 23, Koga 14, Adeogun 9, Dela Cruz 8, Pascual 6, Ludovice 6, Dela Rosa 6, Abarcar 0, A. Semerad 0, Mendoza 0, Sara 0, D. Semerad 0.
Perpetual Help (65) -- Omorogbe 21, Baloria 16, Jolangcob 10, Arboleda 7, Alano 6, Bitoy 3, Thompson 2, Dizon 0, Ylagan 0, Elopre 0, Paulino 0.
Quarterscores: 20-10; 38-22; 52-39; 72-65.