SAN Beda reaffirmed its dominance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, outclassing Arellano, 89-70, to capture a record fifth straight crown on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Eager to wrap up the best-of-three series, the Red Lions simply refused to give the inexperienced Chiefs an opening all-game long, establishing an early lead before unleashing a stronger finishing kick to pull off the blowout victory.
The Lions thus matched the longest title reign in the seniors division, a feat last achieved by San Sebastian in the mid-1990s.
It was also the Lions’ eighth title in the last nine years and a record 19th overall championship that maintained their stature as the league’s most successful team.
“We’ll always cherish this moment,” Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said. “Give credit to the boys. They really wanted to finish this series and enjoy the five-peat right away.”
Anthony Semerad shone on both ends of the floor, firing a career-high 30 points and carving out a stellar defensive job on Chiefs star point guard John Pinto, who missed all but one of his nine shots for a measly three points.
Semerad, the Filipino-Australian was adjudged the Finals MVP, but fellow PBA-bound teammate Kyle Pascual, Ola Adeogun, Art dela Cruz, and Baser Amer also delivered as usual.
Pascual tallied 16 points and eight boards as he capped his collegiate career with a personal sweep of five championships, while Adeogun registered 15 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks; and Dela Cruz chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds.
But it was Amer who made their stats look good. Nursing cramps, the pride of Davao scored just four points, but dished out 13 assists, including 11 in the first half, where the Lions built a 14-point cushion.
The Mendiola-based dribblers turned it up a notch in the second half as they kept pushing pedal to the metal and never allowed the Chiefs to come closer than seven points. The Lions also stayed aggressive and were rewarded numerous trips to the foul line. In all, they had a total of 50 free throws, converting 35 of them.
So insurmountable was the lead the Lions built that they started celebrating with still halfway through the fourth quarter.
Amer didn’t have to play the whole period, while Adeogun played sparingly because of foul trouble.
Keith Agovida and Ice Ciriacruz emerged the two bright spots for the Chiefs as Jiovani Jalalon fired blanks, combining with Pinto for a horrendous 2-of-23 shooting from the field.
SBC (89) – A. Semerad 30, Pascual 16, Adeogun 15, Dela Cruz 12, Mendoza 6, Sara 6, Amer 4, Koga 0, D. Semerad 0, Tongco 0
AU (70) – Agovida 22, Ciriacruz 15, Jalalon 6, Hernandez 6, Enriquez 6, Holts 6, Pito 3, Salcedo 2, Bangga 2, Ortega 2, Gumaru 0, Nicholls 0, Caperal 0, Cadavis 0
Quarterscores: 22-14, 39-25, 63-52, 89-70.