The San Beda Red Lions bucked a slow start but still subdued the Arellano Chiefs, 59-46, to open their NCAA Season 95 campaign for a fourth straight championship, Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Donald Tankoua towed his way to a double-double performance of 13 points and 12 rebounds. James Canlas was hampered by early foul trouble but still contributed 10 points and seven rebounds while Evan Nelle chipped in with nine points, five boards, and five assists.
It was a low-scoring defensive battle, especially after the first two quarters when Arellano was right behind San Beda by a single point, 24-23. The Red Lions though made the right adjustments after halftime. The defending champions got to work on both ends of the floor to quench the challenge from the Chiefs.
The trio of Canlas, Nelle, and Tankoua came alive and scored 16 of the team's 19 points. On the defensive end, the Red Lions put the clamps on Kent Salado. The graduating scorer caught fire in the first half, dropping 13 points in his return to the NCAA after nearly two years due to an ACL injury. Unfortunately, Salado only had five points in the last two quarters, finishing with 18 points as well as 11 rebounds.
"We were happy we got this one. We were really about the situation with the opening and playing Arellano," said head coach Boyet Fernandez.
"We were facing a good old friend in coach Cholo (Martin) and I'm sure, coach Cholo [who] has been with me for so many years, he knows me," added Fernandez as new Arellano Chiefs mentor used to be on San Beda's bench as an assistant.
Aside from Salano, no other Chief reached double-figures. Gelo Sablan had seven points and eight rebounds in a losing effort.
The Red Lions take on the JRU Heavy Bombers on Friday as their next assignment. The Chiefs, on the other hand, will try to bounce back versus the Letran Knights.
San Beda, which has been to the finals for 13 straight years, got off to another impressive begin to its season. The school has won its opening game for the 14th consecutive time.
SAN BEDA 59 -- Tankoua 13, Canlas 10, Nelle 9, Bahio 6, Doliguez 6, Oftana 6, Carino 3, Abuda 2, Alfaro 2, Soberano 2, Etrata 0, Noah 0, Cuntapay 0, Obenza 0, Visser 0.
ARELLANO 46 -- Salado 18, Sablan 7, Arana 4, Bayla 4, Espiritu 4, Talampas 4, Gayosa 3, Sunga 2, Alcoriza 0, Concepcion 0, Oliva 0, Santos 0, Segura 0, Sacramento 0.
Quarters: 15-7, 24-23, 43-35, 59-46.