MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Defending champions San Beda College (SBC) Red Lions booked a return trip to the NCAA men’s basketball finals by hanging tough against a gritty Perpetual Help squad, 56-52, in the semifinals.
The Red Lions, led by Ola Adeogun, launched a big run in the final period to complete a come-from-behind win against the Altas.
The 6’8” Nigerian center scored 23 points on 6-of-8 field goal shooting to help San Beda to its 7th straight finals appearance. He added 14 rebounds on top of two blocks and an assist.
“Coach [Ronnie Magsanoc] told us to play with heart...he said the win will go to the team who wants it most. He told me to play in defense and rebounds but when the scoring presented itself, I took advantage of it,” said Adeogun.
The Lions, who were enjoying a twice-to-beat edge, struggled against the Altas in the first half, falling behind by 5 points in the first two quarters, 22-17.
After staring at a 4-point deficit in the third period, 39-35, San Beda started taking over. Adeogun tied the game at 43-all with two free throws at the 6:22 mark.
A drive to the basket by Anjo Caram put the Lions ahead, 45-43, before Nicolas Omorogbe drilled back-to-back triples to once again put the Altas ahead, 49-45.
But Adeogun and point guard Baser Amer both hit shots from close range to tie the game at 49-all. A three-point play by Adeogun temporarily put the Lions in front, before Jet Vidal tied the game anew with another three-pointer, 52-all.
The Lions proved to be the steadier team down the stretch, however. Amer and Adeogun both made their free throws, with the center going two-for-two to put the Red Lions ahead, 56-52, with only 16 seconds left.
Meanwhile, the Altas had to rely on the veteran Vidal, who has shown this season that he is capable of hitting clutch shots when needed. But his touch was missing in this game, as he bricked three attempts from beyond the arc in the final 30 seconds.
Vidal and Omogobre scored 15 points each for Perpetual, while George Allen had 9.
“They were tough,” Magsanoc said of the Altas. “They had nothing to lose and they played loose. The big difference was that we’re able to make the needed stops and the crucial free throws.”
The Red Lions will now wait for the winner of the other semi-finals match-up between the Letran Knights and the San Sebastian Stags after the Knights forced a do-or-die game.
San Beda 56 - Adeogon 23, Amer 9, Dela Cruz, 7, Caram 6, Pascual J 6, Dela Rosa 5, Pascual K 0, Lim 0, Koga 0, Mendoza 0, Ludovice 0
Perpetual Help 52 - Vidal 15, Omorogbe 15, Allen 9, Alano 5, Elopre 4, Babayemi 4, Arboleda 0, Thompson 0, Paulino 0, Jolangcob 0
Quarterscores: 9-10, 17-22, 35-39, 56-52