NCAA 95 Finals: They never gave up -- Fernandez on San Beda
Mark Escarlote on Nov 15, 2019 09:33 PM
I salute my players also. They really want to prove something today. That’s what character is. We had a loss. Everybody’s all against us but the players really don’t want to lose eh so credit to them -- Boyet Fernandez (Photo courtesy of Josh Albelda)
Defending champion San Beda University saw its 15-0 start evaporate then had to come back from seven points down and display composure under tremendous pressure in the waning seconds of the game to stay alive in the NCAA Season 95 Seniors basketball Finals series against a gritty Letran side.
The Red Lions took Game 2 after a frantic race to the finish, 79-76, on Friday to force a rubber match at the MOA Arena.
It may not be a pretty one but head coach Boyet Fernandez will take it anytime.
“A win is a win, we’ll take this one. I’m just relieved we got over this Game 2 and we won this one,” said Fernandez, whose wards dodged an upset attempt by the Knights.
The mentor, who is looking to steer the Red Lions to a four-peat and their 23rd title overall, lauded his wards for showing great character.
“I salute my players also. They really want to prove something today. That’s what character is. We had a loss. Everybody’s all against us but the players really don’t want to lose eh so credit to them,” he said.
Season Most Valuable Player Calvin Oftana played the hero’s role late in the game, completing an and-one play to put San Beda up, 77-76, with 19.1 seconds left before the Red Lions made crucial stops to deny Letran of an early celebration.
Coming off a shocking Game 1 loss – the Mendiola-based squad’s first of the tournament – Fernandez knew they had to start right.
His squad did it in the first 10 minutes, opening up a 15-0 gap and held it until halftime.
But Letran fought back in the second half behind sniper Fran Yu, who turned a 25-37 deficit at the half to a 56-53 lead in the third. Yu continued his hot shooting streak in the fourth as the Knights opened a 66-59 lead with 7:42 left.
Oftana rallied San Beda back, hitting a triple that ignited a 13-0 run for a 72-66 lead. The Red Lions got the breaks of the game after Yu suffered cramps.
“Unang-una Letran did a good job tonight. They’ve been so ready for us, they know what we’re doing, credit to their coaches. Fran Yu, wow. We’re just lucky he got cramps,” said Fernandez.
Clinching a morale-boosting win, Fernandez hopes his squad will use this to fuel the Red Lions in Game 3 on Tuesday.
“I hope we sustain this one. Playing a tough team like Letran that will be hard for us but again I do thank my players, thank the Lord for this,” he said. “For giving us a chance, another game to fight for and hopefully we can show them again what is San Beda basketball on Tuesday. Sana may magandang pangitain sa Tuesday.”
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