MANILA, Philippines -- Four-peat champions San Beda College survived a late Perpetual Help surge as it hacked out a 77-75 victory to stay on top in the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City on Wednesday.
The Lions squandered a 17-point lead in the third quarter but had enough energy to weather a furious rally by the Altas.
Down by just two points with 16.6 seconds to go, the Altas had a chance to force overtime or snatch the win but Joel Jolangcob missed a triple at the buzzer, allowing the Lions to escape with a seventh win against one loss.
After the game, there was some commotion between San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez and Perpetual Help assistant Lester del Rosario, who didn't like the way the Lions celebrated on the court.
Fernandez and Del Rosario, the son of Altas' head coach Aric, later accused each other of rejecting a handshake.
Baser Amer led his team with 17 points while Anthony Semerad, Arthur dela Cruz and Nigerian Ola Adeogun added 14, 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Altas, who were paced by Juneric Baloria's 21 points and Harold Arboleda's 17, fell to a three-way tie for third with the Jose Rizal University Bombers and the College of St. Benilde Blazers with identical 4-3 cards.
The Lions threatened to break the game apart when they unleashed an 18-2 run that saw them turn a slim 39-38 lead to a 57-40 lead midway in the third period.
But the Las Pinas-based cagers clawed their way back and pulled within two points after Justine Alano scored on a follow up with 26 seconds remaining.
An offensive foul by Adoegun on Baloria gave Perpetual Help 16.6 seconds to either tie it or grab the lead. Jolangcob, however, muffed that potential game-winning three-pointer.
San Beda 77- Amer 17, A. Semerad 14, Dela Cruz 12, Adeogun 11, Sara 7, Mendoza 6, Pascual 4, Tongco 4, D. Semerad 2, Koga 0, Abude 0
Perpetual Help 75- Baloria 21, Arboleda 17, Alano 16, Thompson 10, Dizon 4, Jolangcob 4, Dagangon 3, Bantayn 0, Gallardo 0, Pido 0
Quarterscores: 19-11; 39-38; 65-56; 77-75