By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE DEFENDING champions San Beda Red Lions swept rivals Letran Knights in their season series in National Collegiate Athletic Association Season 94 after winning anew, 74-68, in their second-round encounter on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Had Letran’s number in the first round, San Beda made it two-of-two over the Knights but not after being given another scare by the latter.
Like in their first encounter where the Lions labored to a 80-76 overtime victory, in the reengagement they were made to sweat anew late in the game by the Knights, who nearly erased a huge lead by San Beda in the fourth period and were a play or two away from pulling the rug from under the Lions.
It was tightly fought to start the contest with the two teams jostling to set the pace.
The score eventually settled at 16-15 with San Beda on top after the first 10 minutes.
The back-and-forth continued in the second quarter.
Point guard Robert Bolick jump-started things for the Lions only to be countered later by Knights counterpart JP Calvo.
The two teams battled all the way to end of the opening half with the Lions maintaining control, 35-32.
In the third period, San Beda would go on a fast start, led by Javee Mocon and AC Soberano.
The Lions raced to a 47-33 lead in the first five minutes.
Bonbon Batiller and Jeremiah Taladua stopped the bleeding for Letran and allowed themselves to firm up their footing.
But San Beda would not relent on putting pressure on the Knights on both ends of the court, allowing itself to stay in command, 60-42, heading into the final frame.
Sensing they had the game under control, the Lions went for the jugular to start the fourth quarter.
But Letran was not to be deterred and tried to wiggle out from the San Beda stranglehold.
It managed to come within three points, 67-64, with 57 ticks remaining led by Bong Quinto.
A basket by Donald Tankoua with 50 seconds to go gave San Beda more breathing space, 69-64.
Letran sued for time after to set up a play where Quinto connected on a deuce with 40 seconds left.
Calvo then made it a one-point game, 69-68, with 16 seconds to go.
The Lions called timeout and free throws by Franz Abuda and Jomari Presbitero after made it 72-68 from which the Knights could not recover from.
Tankoua led the Lions (11-1) with 19 points and nine rebounds while Bolick added 13 points.
Mocon had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Quinto, meanwhile, paced the Knights (7-4) with 19 points while Calvo finished with 16.
“While we won I’m not happy with how we finished. I’m pissed off. Had we lost I would take the blame as I gave chance for everybody to play yet some players did not rise up to the challenge. They thought when we had the big lead it was already over,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez after the game.
“Hopefully this serves as a lesson to our players that it is not over till the final buzzer,” he added.