The defending champion San Beda Red Lions will have to try harder in limiting the Letran Knights’ high-octane offense if they want to bounce back and take Game 2 of the 95th National Collegiate Athletic Association best-of-three men’s basketball finals at 4 p.m. today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The last time around, the Red Lions managed to hold down the Knights to below 70 points, but still absorbed a 64-65 setback in Game 1 last Tuesday.
The Knights seek the crown with a win.
Earlier, the San Beda Red Cubs will go for the crown against the Lyceum Junior Pirates in Game 2 of the Junior division.
The Red Cubs, led by Jay Ynot and Justin Sanchez with 16 points, took Game 1 with a 94-80 triumph over the Junior Pirates.
The Red Lions usually holds teams to score an average of 61.7 points per game during the eliminations. The Knights, who average 78.6 points, will definitely be a challenge.
For coach Boyet Fernandez, the Red Lions will be able to have a fighting chance to go for their fourth straight crown if they managed to hold down the Knights’ output.
“We limited Letran to 65 points and their average is 78.6 points. If we can still do that on Friday, and make our shots, then we can give ourselves a chance for Game 3,” said Fernandez.
The Red Lions’ big man Donald Tankoua, who tops the league in field goal percentage with 64%, was down to a 30 % clip in Game 1 (3/10 shooting) and he could do better the next time they clash with the Knights.
Evan Nelle, the assists’ leader with 6.7 per game, is also expected to bounce back with Clint Doliguez and AC Soberano, who were held scoreless at the three-point region.
On the other hand, the Knights will be looking at what point guard Fran Yu can do.
Yu averaged 9.4 points, 3.8 boards, and 4.4 dimes during the elimination round,
And it was his defensive stop on Nelle and assist to Larry Muyang in the dying seconds which spelled the difference in the game.
The 5’10” Yu improved his averages to 13.3 points, 4.67 assists, and 5.33 rebounds in Game 1.
“Hind pa tapos. Although we have the momentum, we need to hold the game para makuha namin iyung Game 2. Sana hindi na pakawalan ng mga bata,” said Knights’ coach Bonnie Tan.
A championship tradition is at stake for the Red Lions, who are the winningest college team in the league with 22 titles.
The Knights are trying to catch up, since they are behind the Red Lions with 17 crowns.