Four key players led by Javee Mocon took charge as the San Beda Red Lions moved closer to their 22nd men’s basketball crown in the 94th National Collegiate Athletic Association at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With the Pirates feeling the absence of key player CJ Perez, Red Lions Mocon, Robert Bolick, Clint Doliguez and Donald Tankoua put in double digit outputs as the Red Lions demolished Lyceum, 73-60, to win Game 1 of their championship.
Mocon fired a game-high 14 points and hauled down 10 rebounds for the Red Lions, who took control of the tempo of the game right from the start. San Beda limited the Pirates to just nine points in the first 10 minutes of the games.
Meanwhile, high school MVP Joel Cagulangan led with 16 points for the defending champion La Salle Greenhills, who weathered a late rally to repulse the Malayan High School Reb Robins, 74-69, in Game 1 of the junior finals.
The 18-year-old Cagulangan, who didn’t expect to get a citation, rose to the occasion with two other teammates in the final minute. His triple late in the game gave the Greenies a 73-65 edge.
The Pirates, who lost Perez after he was suspended for a game for his failure to inform the NCAA management committee of his intention to join the 2018 Philippine Basketball Association rookie draft, could only make 13 points in the second period.
Doliguez knocked in eight of 11 points in the second canto as the Red Lions held down the Pirates to 13 points, and coasted to a 43-22 halftime spread.
Bolick shot 12 points and had a rebound, and nine assists for the Red Lions, who went on to grab a 27-point edge 66-39, with 7:53 to go in the fourth. Tankoua banged in 10 for the Red Lions.
Mike Nzeusseu had 16 for the Pirates, who came back to within 10 points in the final minute.
“Without CJ, probably bumaba iyung effort nila. But, again, even without CJ, we beat the boys by 13 points. And CJ averages 18 points per game,” said Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez.
Pirates coach Topex Robinson said they have high hopes of bouncing back with Perez back in action, and they will fight to even things up in Game 2 on Monday.
“We are ready for round 2, and we’ll be happy to win the championship,” stated Robinson.
SAN BEDA 73
– Mocon 14, Bolick 12, Doliguez 11, Tankoua 10, Cabanag 8, Canlas 6, Oftana 4, Presbitero 3, Nelle 3, Cuntapay 2, Soberano 0, Abuda 0, Eugene 0, Tongco 0, Carino 0.
– Nzeusseu 16, Marcelino JC 13, Marcelino JV 13, Ayaay 9, Caduyac 5, Valdez 2, Yong 2, Ibanez 0, Pretta 0, Santos 0, Tansingco 0, Serrano 0, Lumbao 0.
: 19-9, 43-22, 59-39, 73-60.