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San Beda escapes Perpetual Help's late run as free throw woes haunt Thompson

By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Bright Akhuetie admitted to Dugout Philippines prior to Perpetual Help's Tuesday battle against San Beda that he was wary of the latter's locals.

He was right.

Leading MVP candidate Arth Dela Cruz posted another MVP-worthy numbers, while Dan Sara made a clutch and-one play and Michole Sorela made a crucial steal down the stretch as the Red Lions subdued the Altas, 83-81, at the FilOil Flying V Arena.

Back on his usual self after a leg injury affected his performance against Letran on Thursday, Akhuetie ended up virtually on his lonesome in the end as Scottie Thompson found himself missing clutch charities.

San Beda tried to pull away early in the fourth quarter as it built a 65-54 lead, but Gab Dagangon buried three straight triples to cut the lead to just two, 65-63, with 7:24 remaining.

The Altas later came to as close as one, 69-70, midway through the final chapter, but Ola Adeogun made back-to-back baskets to stretch the Red Lions' lead to five with 3:26 left.

Thompson's problem at the stripe then started. An 83 percent free throw shooter entering Tuesday, he missed two free throws off a foul in the next play, although he made up for it by a follow-up shot to cut San Beda's advantage to three, 74-71, with 2:23 left.

Another Thompson basket pulled the Altas to within one again, but Sara made a pull-up and converted the bonus free throw to again extend the Red Lions' lead to four, 77-73, with 1:30 remaining.

After an exchange of field goals and a Perpetual Help free throw, the team had a huge chance to trim the gap further as Ola Adeogun, who made all his three charities prior to his trip to the line, missed both of his free throws.

Akhuetie, however, only made a split in his own pair of charities, and the margin was just two with 40.1 remaining.

Adeogun made up by completing his free throw trip in the next play to stretch San Beda's lead to four, 81-77, with 33.4 seconds to go.

Akhuetie then drove to the basket for a tough layup to cut the lead down to two, 81-79, with 26.5 seconds remaining.

Perpetual Help had one more crack at forcing overtime as Radge Tongco missed a corner triple in the next play and San Beda lost the ball to the sideline with 6.8 seconds remaining.

But Thompson found his inbound pass stolen by Hapee teammate Sorela, and the latter made two free throws to extend the lead to four anew, 83-79, with 5.3 seconds left.

Sorela, however, committed a blunder on the other side as he fouled Thompson while the latter went for a hurried triple with 2.9 seconds remaining.

The reigning MVP, however, muffed his first free throw. He made his two other free throws to cut the lead to two.

San Beda safely inbounded the ball as Perpetual Help failed to quickly foul in the end.

Dela Cruz finished with 25 points, 17 rebounds, and six assists for the Red Lions, who moved up to solo second with 5-1.

His game-saving steal actually capped Sorela's season-high game as he finished with 15 points.

Akhuetie also had a double-double with a 25-16 tally for the Altas, who now lost back-to-back game after opening the season 4-0.

Thompson, who finished with 20 markers, only made five of 13 charities, missing five in the fourth and three in the final two minutes.

Box Scores:

San Beda 83–Dela Cruz 25, Sorela 15, Adeogun 11, Tongco 10, Tankoua 7, Sara 5, Soberano 4, Koga 2, Cabanag 2, Mocon 2, Reyes 0

Perpetual Help 81–Akhuetie 25, Thompson 20, Dagangon 18, Coronel 6, Dison 3, Eze 3, Tamayo 2, Gallardo 2, Cabiltes 2, Oliveria 0, Ylagan 0, Bantayan 0, Sadiwa 0, Elopre 0

Quarterscores: 19-18, 35-39, 60-54, 83-81