MANILA, Philippines -- San Beda College turned back a feisty challenge from Mapua, 74-69, to remain on top of the heap at the 90th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City on Wednesday.
The Red Lions leaned on a strong, bounce-back effort from Nigerian Ola Adeogun, who scattered 19 points and grabbed 10 boards to make up for lost time when he was benched in a 64-53 loss to Letran last week for missing practice.
Ryusei Koga, for his part, came out with his best game of the season and fired 17 points, including 12 in the second half when the Lions broke loose to seal their eighth win against two losses.
"We need Ola's inside presence, that's how important he is in our team," said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez. "I also have to give credit to Koga, he really played well for us.”
Playing rugged, the Cardinals were in it in at the get-go as they muscled their way to an 18-17 lead after the opening quarter with Joseph Eriobu pouring eight of his game-high 22 points in the period.
Then Adeogun started to bully his way through and torched the Cardinals with 11 points in the second quarter when the Lions turned a one-point deficit into a 39-34 advantage at the break.
Koga took over from there as San Beda built enough cushion to soften the impact of a late fightback by Mapua.
The Cardinals fell to a 1-8 win-loss record.
San Beda 74- Adeogun 19, Koga 17, A. Semerad 8, Amer 6, Mendoza 6, dela Cruz 6, Cabanag 3, D. Semerad 3, Mocon 2, Sara 2, Pascual 2, Abude 0, Abatayo 0, Solera 0
Mapua 69- Eriobu 22, Isit 12, Cantos 12, Canaynay 7, Gabo 4, Layug 4, Estrella 4, Biteng 2, Saitanan 2, Villasenor 0
Quarterscores: 17-18; 39-34; 62-46; 74-69