Lions beat Bombers to kick off title defense
San Beda's Ola Adeogun fights his way to the basket. Photo by mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The San Beda Red Lions opened their five-peat campaign in style by defeating the host school Jose Rizal University, 57-49, in their first game of the NCAA Season 90 men's basketball tournament Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Red Lions forced the Heavy Bombers to commit a host of turnovers in the third quarter, and got strong production from their big men, led by Ola Adeogun, on their way to their first victory of the season.
"I'm just happy that we won this ball game," SBC head coach Boyet Fernandez said. "I'm worried about the first game, as always, due to the fact that (with) the opening ceremonies, there are so many people, maraming distorbo."
"At least my players really focused their minds on this game, so we're just happy that we got this one," he added.
San Beda led by as much as 15 points, 46-31, at the end of the third quarter after Kyle Pascual drilled a corner triple. The Red Lions pressured the Bombers into turnovers in the third period, getting their hands inside passing lanes and pressuring the JRU ball-handlers, which allowed them to build their lead.
"The system of this team will start on defense," said Fernandez. "I really give the credit to my players, for they really welcomed the system of playing defense first, before offense. We just get our offense through our good defensive effort."
It looked as though JRU would mount a comeback when Philip Paniamogan splashed back-to-back three-pointers to kick off the final period, but San Beda kept their composure and worked the ball inside to center Ola Adeogun, who punished the Heavy Bombers for easy points.
San Beda's big-to-big passing was also on point during the game, with Adeogun, Pascual, and Art dela Cruz connecting several times for open looks inside the paint.
The defending champions took a 57-43 lead with 2:45 left after a JaVee Nocom triple, and the Bombers ended the game on a 6-0 blast to make the score more respectable.
Adeogun finished the game with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Pascual added nine points and eight rebounds. Point guard Baser Amer had an all-around game of six points, five rebounds, seven assists, and three steals, though he was also responsible for five of SBC's 22 turnovers.
Still, Fernandez was happy with how his players limited JRU to only 49 points, especially as the Bombers' key guards, Paniamogan and Jaycee Asuncion, finished with only 12 and 2 points, respectively.
"I credit the guys who played defense against Paniamogan and Asuncion. We believe that Asuncion and Paniamogan are the two best shooters probably not only in JRU, but also in the NCAA," said Fernandez. "So we're happy that we limited them."
JRU committed 19 turnovers in the game, and were out-rebounded 32-46. Neither team shot particularly well, with San Beda making 38% of their attempts while JRU made 32% of theirs.
The Red Lions took a 29-21 lead after the first half, with Amer tallying four points, four assists and four rebounds and Adeogun adding six points and eight boards.
The Bombers were able to tie the game at 18 and then again at 20 via a 9-4 run to start the second period, but their offense sputtered from there as the Red Lions packed the paint.
San Beda took the lead again via a Ranbill Tongco lay-up, and then outscored JRU 7-2 the rest of the period to take a 29-21 lead. Lance Abude beat the buzzer with a triple to give the Red Lions the eight-point lead.
But the Red Lions broke the game open in the third quarter, with Adeogun and Anthony Semerad conspiring in an 8-0 blast to turn a 35-29 game into a 43-29 blowout.
SBC 57 - Adeogun 20, Pascual 9, De La Cruz 8, Amer 6, A. Semerad 4, Mocon 3, Abude 3, Cabanag 2, Tongco 2, Koga 0, Mendoza 0, D. Semerad 0.
JRU 49 - Paniamogan 12, Lasquety 9, Abdul-Wahab 6, Balagtas 6, Mabulac 6, Benavides 4, Sanchez 2, Teodoro 2, Asuncion 2, Salaveria 0, Grospe 0, Manuel 0.