SAN Beda survived a brave stand from Mapua as it hacked out a 74-69 victory on Wednesday to quickly get back on the winning track in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Ola Adeogun made a rousing return from his benching, sparking a breakaway in the middle quarters, where the Red Lions nurtured a double-digit.
The defending champions, however, had to withstand a late scare from the cellar-dwelling Cardinals before prevailing and recover from a 54-63 loss to Letran last week.
“We bungled everything there,” said Lions coach Boyet Fernandez, whose team committed a season-worst 27 turnovers that translated into 23 points for the Cardinals. “But I’m happy we got this win and we’re done with Mapua.”
The Lions hiked their win-loss record to 8-2 to keep a firm grip of the top spot, while dealing the Cardinals their ninth loss in 10 games.
Eager to make up for lost time after getting benched in the Lions’ defeat to their archrival Knights for missing practice for three days, Adeogun pumped in all but two his team-high 19 points in the second and third periods.
The Nigerian slotman, who notched a double-double, tallying 10 boards on top of three assists, two blocks, and one steal, threw his weight around in the second quarter in the absence of the Cardinals’ counterpart Jessie Saitanan.
Saitanan was thrown out near halftime when he threw a karate chop at the Lions’ David Semerad.
But the Cardinals caught the Lions napping, pouncing on every error by the league-leaders to outscore them, 23-12, in the payoff period, allowing the last-placed side to trim a 16-points third-quarter deficit to just five points late in the game.
But Ryusei Koga stepped up in the limited presence of star point guard Baser Amer as the veteran playmaker knocked down crucial baskets to keep the Cardinals at bay.
Amer, still recovering from a concussion sustained against the Knights, managed to play 28 minutes, but wound up with just six points, two boards, and one assist.
SBC 74 – Adeogun 19, Koga 17, A. Semerad 8, Amer 6, Mendoza 6, Dela Cruz 6, Cabanag 3, D. Semerad 3, Mocon 2, Sara 2, Pascual 2, Abude 0, Abatayo 0, Sorela 0
MIT 69 – Eriobu 22, Isit 12, Cantos 12, Canaynay 7, Gabo 4, Layug 4, Estrella 4, Biteng 2, Saitanan 2, Villasenor 0
Quarterscores: 17-18, 39-34, 62-46, 74-69