San Beda sinks LPU for first time to close in on 21st title

San Beda sinks LPU for first time to close in on 21st title
IS NOTHING. Robert Bolick and San Beda dealt CJ Perez and LPU their very first defeat in the NCAA 93 Men's Basketball Tournament.

San Beda College has done what was thought to be impossible in the NCAA 93 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Behind Donald Tankoua’s game-long brilliance and Robert Bolick and Javee Mocon’s clutch plays, the Red Lions downed Lyceum of the Philippines University, 94-87, in Game 1 of the Finals on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Pirates have been perfect – until now with San Beda sending a statement that the road to a title still runs through them. “We’re happy to get this one. Everybody is watching this game and it’s my boys who really stepped up,” a more than satisfied head coach Boyet Fernandez said post-game.

Of course, the top two teams in the tournament were going at it for all of the game and were still all even at 80-all inside the last three minutes.

It was at that point that Javee Mocon aggressively got into the paint and drew a foul. He split from the stripe and then followed that up with another inside basket for an 83-80 advantage for the Red Lions.

Mike Nzeusseu hit a short stab to close LPU to within one only to see the Red Lions’ captain go on a personal 6-0 run – three coming from a triple and three coming from free throws – to put his team back ahead, 89-82, with 55 ticks to go on the clock.

CJ Perez still wouldn’t quit and brought the erstwhile perfect Pirates to as close as 87-91 with 20 seconds remaining, but Bolick and Davon Potts put the game once and for all by making good on three of four free throws.

In the end, the defending champions’ main man had 24 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal to go toe-to-toe with Season MVP Perez who had 25 markers, eight rebounds, and two dimes.

Mocon contributed 11 points, nine rebounds, and two assists – with six of his scoring output coming in the final frame.

While Bolick and Mocon delivered the goods in the endgame, it was Tankoua who steadied their ship in the face of the early storm brought about by their opponents.

The Cameroonian powerhouse wound up with 27 points, 20 rebounds, and one block to his name.

Behind those three, San Beda is now one win away from their 21st championship in school history – and 10th in the last 12 years. They will go all-out for that on Thursday still at the same venue.

Still, Fernandez said that’s nothing but a tall task. “I stick to the brand that we are still the underdogs. We just won one more game. This is not yet over,” he expressed.

Indeed, LPU was still LPU even after a three-week layoff. Nzeusseu and MJ Ayaay provided backup to Perez with 14 and 11 points, respectively.

They would need much more from the likes of the Marcelino twins and Reymar Caduyac, however, if they are to force a winner-take-all Game 3.

BOX SCORES

SAN BEDA 94 – Tankoua 27, Bolick 24, Potts 15, Mocon 11, Soberano 9, Tongco 4, Doliguez 2, Noah 2, Abuda 0, Presbitero 0, Adamos 0

LPU 87 – Perez 25, Nzeusseu 14, Ayaay 11, Caduyac 9, Marcelino JV 8, Marcelino JC 6, Ibanez 6, Santos 5, Pretta 3, Serrano 0, Baltazar 0

QUARTER SCORES: 22-21, 45-50, 64-64, 94-87

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