The San Beda Red Lions inch closer to a third straight NCAA title.
The defending champions in familiar territory once, entering their 13th straight NCAA Finals appearance after defeating the Perpetual Help Altas, 83-72, Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
"First of all, I would like to congratulate coach Frankie (Lim), the Altas, and the Perpetual community for a very good game," said a gracious coach Boyet Fernandez. "First half, we were missing our shots. But as I have said, with AC and Robert taking good care of our point guard position, we made shots in the third quarter."
The Red Lions held a three-point lead at halftime but banked on their winning pedigree and experience to get their rhythm in the second half. Robert Bolick scored 16 of his 23 points in the last two quarters. Gunner AC Soberano also caught fire late, lighting the scoreboard for 12 points, all from downtown. As a team, the Red Lions only scored 33 points in the first 25 minutes but amped up their scoring erupting for 50 points in the last 15 minutes of the contest.
Soberano also set the tone for the Red Lions in the pivotal fourth period by hitting back-to-back triples. Even as the Altas were trying to make a comeback, timely shots from Donald Tankoua and Javee Mocon kept them at bay.
Jelo Razon and Rey Peralta scored 16 points for the Altas in the loss. MVP contender Prince Eze scored only 13 points on 5-for-14 shooting and 13 rebounds. The Altas' stellar campaign comes to an stunning close. They were the breakout team this season under the mentorship of coach Frankie Lim.
Before the game, the NCAA issued a statement regarding the eligibility issue surrounding two of its players. Ultimately, the league decided to give University of Perpetual Help a stern warning for fielding a school-based team in a non-NCAA league.
San Beda will meet the Lyceum Pirates in a rematch of last year's finals matchup.
"But again, it's not yet over. We still have a title to defend against Lyceum," Fernandez shared.
SBU 83 - Bolick 23, Mocon 14, Tankoua 13, Soberano 12, Cabanag 9, Eugene 5, Canlas 4, Presbitero 3, Oftana 0, Abuda 0, Doliguez 0, Nelle 0
UPHSD 72 - Razon 16, Peralta 16, Eze 13, Charcos 12, Aurin 7, Coronel 5, Jimenez 3, Cuevas 0
Quarters: 13-11, 27-24, 53-48, 83-72