SAN BEDA regained its old, fiery form to wallop Arellano, 97-69, in their playoff at The Arena in San Juan on Friday to capture the top seed of the Final Four in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
The Red Lions arrested a rare three-game losing streak, leaning on a second-quarter breakaway that set the tone for the blowout victory and sustained their regular season dominance in the league, having finished at the top for ninth straight year.
The defending champions thus enter the semifinals with a twice-to-beat advantage against University of Perpetual Help.
“It’s nice to win again,” Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said. “The intensity and drive of the players to prove that the losses were just a fluke (were the difference).”
Baser Amer led five Lions in double-figure scoring as his team avenged a heartbreaking 78-76 defeat at the hands of the Chiefs.
But the match would not have been possible if not for Arellano’s 101-96 loss to Lyceum that forged the playoff for top spot.
“Thanks to LPU for giving us the chance at this playoff,” Fernandez said. “We never thought we would be given this chance.”
The Chiefs were still ahead at the end of the first quarter, but lost the lead after forward Keith Agovida picked up an unsportsmanlike foul, a development the Lions pounced on and translated into a 15-0 blast that turned the game around.
Amer scored eight of his game-high 21 points in the final frame, where the Lions pulled away and built a cushion that ballooned to 32, 97-65, after an Art dela Cruz steal and breakaway layup.
Amer added five assists, three boards, and one steal, while Ola Adeogun chipped in 15 points, 12 rebounds, and one block.
SBC 97 – Amer 21, Adeogun 15, Pascual 14, Sara 10, Dela Cruz 10, Mendoza 9, Koga 7, A. Semerad 6, D. Semerad 5, Tongco 0
AU 69 – Hernandez 11, Agovida 10, Jalalon 8, Holts 8, Cadavis 6, Nicholls 5, Caperal 4, Enriquez 4, Ortega 3, Gumaru 2, Salcedo 2, Ciriacruz 2, Bangga 2, Pinto 2, Palma 0
Quarterscores: 18-22, 43-32, 67-56, 97-69