THE San Beda Red Lions came into the fight feeling like underdogs for the first time against a confident Lyceum Pirates’ team that finished the elimination round with a historic 18-0 sweep.
But Robert Bolick Jr. and Javee Mocon spoiled the Pirates’ continued march with daring endgame plays that carried the Lions to a 94-87 triumph in the 93rd National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament finals yesterday at the Araneta Coliseum.
It was the thrice-to-beat Pirates’ first loss of the season, putting them on even terms with the Lions as both teams now need to win twice to claim the crown.
Things went downhill for the Pirates right after the Red Lions stepped it up with Mocon and Bolick Jr. attacking from inside and out and at the stripe in the last three minutes.
The Red Lions started taking charge for good when Mocon, who had 11 points, split his charity shot off a foul by Reymar Caduyac, to shatter an 80-all deadlock.
Mike Nzeusseu tried to answer back for the Pirates but missed.
Mocon’s putback in the last 1:58 moved the Red Lions up by three, 83-80.
Bolick, who had 24 points behind Donald Tankoua’s 27-point, 20-rebound performance, then took charge after Nzeusseu scored on another inside play in the final 1:42 as the Pirates threatened, 82-83. He answered with a triple and then scored on three freebies and a driving shot against Caduyac after the Pirates turned the ball over following misses by Season MVP CJ Perez.
This put the Red Lions on top by nine, 91-82, with just 35 seconds to go and the game all wrapped up.
“I’ll stick to the brand. We are still the underdogs. We just only won one game against LPU, and it’s not yet over, and we still have to win one more game,” said coach Boyet Fernandez as the Lions prepare for Game 2 on Thursday.
Perez powered the Pirates with 25 points, with his two triples in the remaining 7:18 keeping them ahead, 72-71.
With Nzeusseu held to a point in the third, the Pirates still took a 12-point lead, 57-45, off Jesper Ayaay’s trey with 8:26.
But outside shots from Davon Potts and Bolick, along with inside plays from Tankoua, allowed the Red Lions to unleash a16-3 rally that gave San Beda the lead, 61-60.
It was a close fight afterwards.
“San Beda was really a great team this afternoon. We lost to a better team, and it’s not going to define us just because of the loss. What’s going to define us is how we are going to bounce back,” said LPU coach Topex Robinson.
Meanwhile, the La Salle Greenhills Greenies fought the defending champion Malayan High School Red Robins without an aggressive inside operator for most of the game.
But the Greenies still came out on top and stopped the Red Robins, 74-68, in Game 1 of the junior division finals.
Joel Cagulangan, who had 17 points with Joshua David, came up with two big steals in the last three minutes and this decided the outcome of the match and put the Greenies within reach of their first-ever title conquest.
The 5’8” Cagulangan, who was named part of the Mythical 5, first stole off Eric Jabel and assisted Joshua Marcos for a drive that gave the Greenies a six-point edge, 72-66.
Then, Cagulangan snatched the ball away from Carl Lacap in the next possession and drove in for a quick layup that handed LSGH an eight-point spread with 2:12 to go, 74-66.
From there, the Red Robins missed three of four attempts in the remaining time.
“Those are good decision-making skills that helped. I trusted them on their gut feel. If they can go for it, why not?” said LSGH coach Marvin Bienvenida.
The Red Robins, with season MVP Will Gozum leading with 16 points, were behind, 38-43, when Greenies forward Inand Fornillos was slapped with a disqualifying foul for an alleged open-fisted jab on Gozum during a rebound play in the last 5:27 of the second period.
Gozum, the season MVP, was held to three in the third period, and one in the final quarter.
The Red Robins, who were in front, 37-33, at halftime, lost their edge on a 6-1 run that David led with a drive and a three-point play. 40-38.
SAN BEDA 94 – Tankoua 27, Bolick 24, Potts 15, Mocon 11, Soberano 9, Tongco 4, Doliguez 2, Noah 2, Abuda 0, Presbitero 0, Adamos 0
LPU 87 – Perez 25, Nzeusseu 14, Ayaay 11, Caduyac 9, Marcelino JV 8, Marcelino JC 6, Ibanez 6, Santos 5, Pretta 3, Serrano 0, Baltazar 0
QUARTER SCORES: 22-21, 45-50, 64-64, 94-87
CSB-LSGH 74 – Cagulangan 17, David 17, Marcos 15, Fornilos 14, Morales 4, Mosqueda 4, Sangco 3, Lao 0, Perez 0, Dela Cruz 0, Lepalam 0, Cruz 0
MAPUA 68 – Gozum 16, Jabel 13, Escamis 11, Lacap 9, Bonifacio 6, Enriquez 6, Garcia 4, Ramos 3, Arches 0
QUARTER SCORES: 19-20, 33-37, 59-52, 74-68
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