SAN Beda moved a win away from A fifth successive championship in the juniors division of the NCAA basketball tournament after scoring a 79-68 victory over La Salle Greenhills on Monday in Game One of the Finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Hardly challenged in an 18-game of the eliminations, the thrice-to-beat Red Cubs finally found a worthy challenge and had to turn to their experience down the stretch to hold off the Greenies.
“Kaya rin sila pumasok sa Finals kasi may puso sila,” Red Cubs coach JB Sison said of the Greenies, who defeated Mapua and San Sebastian in the stepladder semifinals to earn the right to face the Cubs in the championship round.
“But we just made the right plays and stepped up in the end,” added Sison, who took over from former coach Britt Reroma this year.
Game Two is on Thursday at the same venue with the Cubs gunning for the first sweep in the juniors division since 2008 when San Sebastian, behind Arvie and Mark Bringas and Almond Vosotros, won all their 14 games on the way to the title.
Arvin Tolentino and Rev Diputado delivered the key baskets in the endgame for the Cubs after the Greenies cut a double-digit deficit to just five points, 63-68, on two charities from Prince Rivero with still two minutes remaining.
Tolentino fired 11 of his 21 points in the payoff period in a performance that negated the 34-point, 24-rebound showing of Rivero, the newly crowned MVP.
SBC (79) – Tolentino 21, Diputado 19, Caracut 16, Tongco 12, Abuda 4, Decapia 2, Abatayo 2, Mocon 2, Abude 1, Framil 0, De Villeres 0, Gumtang 0
LSGH (68) – Rivero 34, Dela Cruz 12, Paras 11, Barrera 4, Lanot 3, San Juan 2, Ramilo 1, Gob 1, Salonga 0, RP Rivero 0, Abadeza 0
Quarterscores: 23-12, 42-32, 62-51, 79-68