NCAA Finals: San Beda ready, raring to battle the 'real' LPU in Game 2

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 06, 2018 07:43 PM
NCAA Finals: San Beda ready, raring to battle the 'real' LPU
San Beda's third championship in a row will have to come against an LPU side welcoming back CJ Perez with arms wide open

San Beda University took care of business up against CJ Perez-less Lyceum of the Philippines University in Game 1 of the Finals in the 94th Season of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Dominating from start to finish, the Red Lions came away with a 73-60 win and closed to within a win of a third championship in a row.

Still, the defending champions know full well they still have a long way to go – especially with Perez returning for the Pirates in Game 2 on Monday. “I have so much respect for LPU, I have so much respect for coach Topex [Robinson] as a coach so I know they will be back,” head coach Boyet Fernandez said.

Perez – without a doubt, one of the top players in all of the league – had to serve a one-game suspension after it was found that he filed his application for the 2018 PBA Draft, but failed to inform the league’s Management Committee (ManCom) about it.

Explaining its decision, the league said that he violated a rule which states that “an athlete may apply for draft in (the PBA) provided he must inform the ManCom in writing and is duly endorsed by his school representative to the ManCom.”

Even so, LPU put up a fight and even shrunk a 25-point deficit to just 10 late in the game.

And so, in the end, San Beda’s victory just had a margin of 13. “With CJ there, if you look at it, we only beat them by 13 so idagdag mo 18 ni CJ, talo pa kami,” coach Boyet said, referring to Perez’s 18.7 points per game average.

With that in mind, the Red Lions are already in the process of gearing up for a Pirate crew at full strength. As their hardworking mentor put it, “We just have to be ready because we know they’ll be back. They were a different LPU in the first half, but third and fourth (quarters), that’s the LPU team.”

He then continued, “You add CJ there, wow, that will be a different and strong team.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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