SAN Beda bucked the absence of Art dela Cruz and the limited presence of Ola Adeogun as the Red Lions repulsed the Lyceum Pirates, 84-68, on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan to grab the solo lead in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
With Dela Cruz suspended and Adeogun saddled with foul trouble, the defending champion Red Lions turned to their other reliables to avoid another early upset against the Pirates, who dealt them their first loss in the eliminations last season.
Anthony Semerad continued his aggressive play, registering a career high-tying 20 points, while Kyle Pascual, who started in place of Dela Cruz, chipped in 10 points and eight boards for the Lions, who stayed unbeaten after three starts.
The Pirates, on the other hand, suffered a second loss in three games.
“We had to be prepared mentally,” Pascual said. "A lot of us stepped up today knowing that Art wasn’t going to be playing.”
Jaypee Mendoza and Ranbill Tongco also delivered in the absence of the versatile forward, who was suspended after he punched Mapua’s Jeson Cantos in their game last week. Dela Cruz was initially called for a flagrant foul, which was eventually upgraded into a disqualifying variety after a review of the play after the game.
For a while, though, the Lions missed the services of Dela Cruz as they trailed the Pirates in the first quarter, where promising rookie big man Joseph Gabayni threw his weight around to score all his eight points.
When they turned the game around, the Lions then missed Adeogun, the Nigeran slotman was picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter.
Adeogun returned with just three minutes and 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but fouled out just 10 seconds later.
Still, the Lions, kept the Pirates at bay and never let them come closer than eight points, 59-51.
The Lions’ defense also shone as Pirates emerging star Wilson Baltazar, coming in averaging 15.5 points, was held scoreless in 18 minutes.
SBC 84 – A. Semerad 20, Amer 12, Pascual 10, Mendoza 9, Adeogun 9, Tongco 8, Koga 7, D. Semerad 6, Sara 2, Sorela 1, Cabanag 0, Mocon 0, Abude 0
LPU 68 – Zamora 14, Ko 13, Mbida 12, Bulawan 10, Gabayni 8, Maconocido 5, Lesmoras 2, Taladua 2, Elmejrab 2, Baltazar 0, Soliman 0
Quarterscores: 14-18, 31-27, 53-43, 84-68