SAN Beda held Mapua scoreless in the last minute of Game Two to escape with an 81-78 victory on Tuesday and forced a winner-take-all match in the NCAA Season 92 juniors basketball finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Carlo Obenza scored a team-high 19 points and converted a breakaway lay-up off a steal with 34.2 seconds left in the fourth to give the Red Cubs a 79-78 advantage.
That basket completed San Beda’s comeback from 12 points down as the Red Cubs held on to tie the best-of-three title series.
Game Three is set on Friday either at the Mall of Asia Arena or the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Red Cubs nearly saw their dynasty of seven straight NCAA titles end on Tuesday as they trailed by seven points, 75-68, late but managed to cut down the deficit to one, 78-77, with 1:12 remaining.
After Obenza’s go-ahead lay-up, Peter Alfaro picked up an offensive rebound after Joshua Tagala split his two free throws, and scored another free throw to gain a three-point cushion.
“Sobrang muntikan na. Buti na lang naka-recover kami,” said a relieved San Beda coach JB Sison.
“Never namin na-question ‘yung composure. Pinagusapan namin na this is our sixth championship series. This year, alam kong ready sila. Buti na lang, kahit papaano, breaks of the game sa dulo,” Sison said.
Robi Nayve had 13 points, while Germy Mahinay added 13 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in the contest.
Romuel Junsay had 23 points for the Red Robins, who won Game One, 83-64, last week. Mapua is still seeking their first crown since 2000, and the first under the school’s new high school campus now named Malayan High School of Science.
San Beda (81)—Obenza 19, Nayve 14, Mahinay 13, Nelle 9, Tagala 7, Etrata 6, Abu Hijle 5, Alfaro 4, Velasquez 4, Lagumen 0.
Mapua (78)—Junsay 23, Salenga 15, Bonifacio 12, Escamis 8, Garcia 6, Gozum 5, Lacap 4, Enriquez 2, Ramos 2, Samudio 1, Dagta 0.
Quarters: 16-18, 33-41, 65-62, 81-78.