San Beda enters NCAA semis with "Clasico" win against Letran

Ric Arlos

By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--There were some big reasons why the latest installment of the NCAA "Clasico" on Tuesday night was special.

First, the proceeds of the tickets will be used for the medical needs of former King Letran Knight Samboy Lim.

Second, both Letran and San Beda looked to escape a possible five-way tie for second place and safely enter the Final Four with a twice-to-beat advantage.

The match lived up to the expectations, but in the end, the Red Lions prevailed.

San Beda held off a gallant stand from Letran to take a 77-73 victory in front of a sold-out FilOil Flying V Arena.

The Red Lions opened a 43-25 halftime cushion, and it turned out to be enough to withstand a late run from the Knights.

Letran opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run that cut the lead to ten, 45-35, early in the period, but San Beda answered with a 9-2 run to stretch the gap to 17, 54-37, with 2:42 left in the frame.

The Red Lions then retaliated with the mini-runs the Knights built in some stretches of the second half.

But Letran made a huge 14-3 run that cut the lead to just four, 77-73, with 25.8 ticks left in the game.

The team tried to inch closer as McJour Luib forced a steal at its attack zone, but Mark Cruz failed to capitalize as he missed his three-point try.

Baser Amer still gave Letran some glimpse of light as he muffed two late free throws, but Javee Mocon saved the day as he blocked Luib's triple with two seconds on the clock, eventually sealing San Beda's win.

Ola Adeogun led the Red Lions with 13 points, 15 rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal while making four clutch layups to help stave off the Knights.

A.C. Soberano, whose three-point shooting in the second quarter helped San Beda open the huge halftime lead, added 11 points.

Rey Nambatac had a game-high 16 markers, four caroms, four dimes, and one steal for the Knights in a match where Cruz only made 5-of-23 from the field and Kevin Racal was limited to only six points.

Despite being in danger of joining the big logjam, Letran can still escape the said scenario by beating Perpetual Help, another team which could be part of the said deadlock, on Friday. In the process, a Letran win will also force another showdown with San Beda for the number one seed come the semifinals.

However, the Knights will miss the services of J.P. Calvo, who will be meted with an automatic one-game suspension after a disqualifying foul in the first half of the match against the Red Lions.

Box Scores:

San Beda 77-Adeogun 13, Soberano 11, Amer 10, Tankoua 10, Koga 9, Mocon 9, Dela Cruz 8, Tongo 3, Sorela 2, Cabanag 2, Presbitero 0, Sedillo 0, Sara 0

Letran 73-Nambatac 16, Cruz 12, Balanza 11, Luib 9, Quinto 8, Apreku 7, Racal 6, Sollano 2, Calvo 2, Publico 0

Quarterscores: 19-15, 43-25, 61-48, 77-73

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