Finally standing on cloud nine, the San Beda Red Lions knocked out the University of Perpetual Help Altas 81-75 in their NCAA Final Four matchup at the Mall of Asia Arena Wednesday afternoon.
San Beda is on to the NCAA Finals for the ninth straight season.
With 19.4 seconds left in the clock, the Red Lions looked at a potential upset when the Altas scored five unanswered baskets to put the boards at 80-75, but San Beda held its ground to hang on to the victory.
Baser Amer headed to the charity stripe with 15.9 seconds remaining to score the game’s final point, and San Beda upped the defensive ante, booking their Finals ticket and a potential fifth straight title.
San Beda’s 26-point, 42-16, looked to crumble in the second half when the Altas zoomed to a 17-2 blaze that left the scoreboard at 46-35.
Scoring just 11 points in the third, the Red Lions reclaimed a double-digit lead in the fourth with an 8-3 run with Amer knocking down a turnaround jumper to cap it and give San Beda a 68-53 advantage.
Red Lions head coach Boyet Fernandez was all praise for his players and foe, Altas head coach Aric del Rosario.
“They had this heart to fight back and finish that game,” Fernandez said. “I told them that we cannot get the title if we can’t beat Perpetual.”
“Play with heart and play with pride.”
Even with the victory, Fernandez paid homage to the veteran del Rosario who he calls as Tatay Aric.
“After the game, I embraced him and told him ‘thank you very much,'” del Rosario said.
Going into their five-peat hunt, Fernandez said that he would offer the championship to his Tatay Aric.
A potential fifth title for the Red Lions is not only for San Beda but also for Fernandez’ Tatay.
“I know that we beat you, but if we win, it’s also for you.”
Anthony Semerad and Baser Amer paced the Red Lions with 18 points and 17 points respectively.
Art del Cruz chipped in a nice double-double with 11 points and 13 boards.
Leading Most Valuable Player candidate Earl Thompson and running mate Juneric Baloria had 20 points apiece for the Altas.
source: Bong Lozada, Inquirer.ph