By Drew Malihan
MANILA – The Red Lions are in the national semis again.
San Beda University escaped a fourth quarter fightback against the UST Growling Tigers, 77-68, to book a Final Four ticket in the final day of the PCCL NCAA-UAAP Challenge at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City on Saturday.
Despite missing 14 of his 19 shots from the field, James Kwekuteye still led the Mendiola-based team with 14 points, 12 of which came from the three-point area, along with seven rebounds, seven assists, and four steals.
Pedro Alfaro III contributed 13 points, six rebounds, and two assists, while Ralph Penuela added 11 markers along with two boards and five dimes.
Kwekuteye took charge for the Lions with six points in the first quarter, all coming from the rainbow and capitalizing on early misses of the boys from España.
Penuela and Prince Etrata teamed up for the Bedans in the second, combining for 10 points and pushing San Beda’s lead within 12 at halftime, 39-27.
The Red Lions enjoyed a 16-point lead at the end of the third before the Growling Tigers tried to come back with a 22-15 outing in the fourth, but the space was enough for San Beda to clinch the win.
UST captain CJ Cansino posted a game-high 21 points for the Tigers but the lack of bench scoring proved fatal for them as the Tigers second and third stringers combined for just 20 points.
San Beda’s defense also hamper the offensive unit of UST, limiting the entire team to just 21-of-67 from the field, and only making eight of their 32 shots from rainbow territory.
The Red Lions will join fellow NCAA-UAAP challengers Ateneo Blue Eagles, and Luzon Regional Cup champions UP Fighting Maroons in the PCCL Final Four.
San Beda (77) - Kweku-Teye 14, Alfaro 13, Penuela 11, Cariño 10, Etrata 7, Oftana 6, Villejo 6, Visser 4, Ejercito 3, Abuda 2, Bahio 1, Cuntapay 0, Fornis 0.
UST (68) - Cansino 21, Paraiso 12, Concepcion 10, Nonoy 9, Chabi Yo 6, Manaytay 4, Asuncion 3, Cuajao 2, Manalang 1, Ando 0, Bataller 0, Pangilinan 0.
Quarters: 19-13, 39-27, 62-46, 77-68.
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