EVEN in pre-season, San Beda still has Letran’s numbers.
Pierre Tankoua scored 12 points and Jayvee Mocon with 10 as the Red Lions slammed the semifinals door on the Knights, 75-72, Wednesday night in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at The Arena in San Juan on Wednesday.
The reigning five-time NCAA champions played their knockout quarterfinal match with the Knights without ace point guard Baser Amer, who's currently with the national team in Singapore for the Southeast Asian Games.
But even in his absence, the Red Lions were able to handle the Knights, who they had beaten in the NCAA Finals in 2012 and 2013.
San Beda though nearly lost a huge 74-54 fourth quarter lead after Letran roared back behind 17 unanswered points to trim down the deficit to 71-74, in the final 46 seconds.
The Knights closed in at 72-75 on two free throws by Mark Cruz with 10 seconds to go and could have forged overtime had Cruz converted his half court heave at the buzzer.
Despite nearly squandering the game, Red Lions coach Jamike Jarin opted not to field veterans Art dela Cruz and big man Ola Adeogun.
“Nothing against Letran but coming into this game I wanted to give more exposure to my young guys,” Jarin explained about his move.
The Mendiola-based squad outrebounded Letran (52-37) and converted its 13 offensive boards to 10 second chance points.
Cruz had 20 points for the Knights, while Jomari Sollano and Bong Quinto chipped in 14 markers apiece.