MANILA, Philippines – San Beda whipped up a big third quarter storm as it downed San Sebastian, 69-51, to move on the cusp of winning its 20th juniors championship in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Former national youth team mainstays Arvin Tolentino and Joshua Caracut paced the Red Cubs with 20 and 17 points, respectively, while Jayvee Mocon got the rest of the job done with 15 points and game-high 17 rebounds to help give them a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series.
"Jayvee Mocon is a game-changer, that 17 rebounds helped us a lot in this win," said San Beda mentor Britt Reroma.
Already the most-titled high school team in the NCAA with 19 crowns, the Cubs will gun for their 20th championship in Game Two on Saturday. A deciding Game Three, if necessary, is on Oct. 25 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
San Beda, which owns the best high school basketball program in the country today, is also looking at winning its first ever four-peat feat after failed tries from 1990-1992 and 2002-2004.
"Aside from the 20th title, we're also eyeing San Beda's first four-peat feat," said Reroma, who has helped steer the Cubs to the title in all his three years since he took over from multi-titled coach Ato Badolato.
Defense has also been key for the Cubs as they held the Staglets to just eight points in the third quarter to turn what was a close contest to a ghastly rout.
"We know defense will help us win championships and the boys showed that in this game," said Reroma.
San Beda (69) – Tolentino 20, Caracut 17, Mocon 15, Inigo 7, Abude 5, Abatayo 2, Gumtang 2, Mcapayag 1, Diputado 0, De Villeres 0, Romero 0, Furaque 0, Abuda 0, Tongco 0, Brojan 0.
San Sebastian (51) – Navarro 7, Velasco 7, Escalambre 7, Yong 6, Costelo 6, Calisaan 6, Gatdula 5, Gayosa 3, Miasco 2, Magno 2, Malamug 0, Causon 0, Santos 0, Loor 0.
Quarterscores: 15-15-, 32-30, 48-38, 69-51