San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez breathed a sigh of relief after the Red Lions throttled the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers, 57-49, in their first game of the NCAA Season 90 men's basketball tournament Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Fernandez made no secret of the fact that he was worried of the distractions that the opening ceremonies – held before the San Beda-JRU game – could have on his players.
"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," Fernandez told reporters after the Red Lions had kicked off their drive for a fifth consecutive championship in style.
"At least my players really focused their minds about this game, so we’re just happy that we got this one," he added.
San Beda led by as much as 15 points at the end of the third quarter and was never really in trouble, despite the best attempts of JRU gunner Philip Paniamogan. Only a 6-0 blast to end the game made the score more respectable for the host school.
"At least natapos namin 'yung game na ito against JRU in the opening game na nanalo kami," said Fernandez, who is in his second year of coaching with the Red Lions.
San Beda center Ola Adeogun led the way for the Red Lions with 20 points and 14 rebounds, and made good on his promise to his coaches that he would not be distracted in the opening game as he was in the previous season.
"Last year, I had a terrible opening game due to some distractions," Adeogun said. "So for me, this year, I told the coaching staff yesterday, 'Don't worry, what happened to me last year won’t happen this year. I'll try to stay more focused today and don’t let any distractions get in my way.'"
"That's what coach has been telling us also, that in the opening day there are a lot of distractions, so just try to stay focused, try not to get distracted by anything," added Adeogun.
Although they were impressive against JRU, Fernandez said they still have some things to iron out over the course of the season.
"Hopefully, all the things we have done, all the mistakes that we had in this game – especially with the press and the zone – we'll check it in the next game," he said.