MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) An unfamiliar court and a slow start could not stop defending champion San Beda University from claiming its third consecutive victory in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball tournament.
The Red Lions weathered an early assault from Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) to overwhelm the Generals, 89-72, in the latter's home court on Thursday at the EAC Gym in Manila.
With the result, San Beda improved to 3-0 in the tournament, moving to solo first in the league standings ahead of unbeaten San Sebastian College (2-0) and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde (2-0).
Sophomore swingman James Canlas led the way for the Red Lions with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while Donald Tankoua put up a double-double of 13 points and 11 boards. Evan Nelle controlled the action, dishing out 7 assists to go with his 15 points.
The Generals, buoyed by their home crowd, were in control early in the game.
They raced to a 12-2 advantage, as Jethro Mendoza unloaded 8 quick points including the pull-up jumper in transition that gave the home team a 10-point cushion.
Their slow start prompted San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez to sue for time at just the 6:34 mark of the first frame, and the Red Lions were quick to respond. Out of the timeout, the defending champions reeled off 17 unanswered points, which included two triples from Canlas and another long-range bomb by Clint Doliguez.
A fastbreak lay-up by JB Bahio put San Beda ahead for the first time, 14-12, and they never trailed again.
The Generals came to within seven points, 34-27, off a split at the line by Marwin Taywan with 3:45 to go in the second period. But San Beda responded with an 11-2 blast to end the first half, capped by a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Canlas, to head into the break with a 45-29 lead.
The Red Lions went on to lead by as much as 28 points, 75-47, off a Bahio jumper with 7:43 left to play.
Calvin Oftana also reached double-digits with 15 points, and wowed the crowd with a tomahawk dunk in the third quarter. Doliguez had 10 points off the bench.
The Generals failed to build on their massive upset of Lyceum of the Philippines University last week, falling to 1-2 in the season.
Taywan paced EAC with 20 points, while Kriss Gurtiza had 15 points, and JP Maguliano had 13 markers. Mendoza cooled down after his hot start, finishing with just 10 points on a 4-of-17 clip from the field.
SAN BEDA 89 - Canlas 21, Nelle 15, Oftana 14, Tankoua 13, Doliguez 10, Bahio 6, Abuda 5, Soberano 2, Carino 2, Cuntapay 1, Alfaro 0, Etrata 0, Obenza 0, Visser 0
EAC 72 - Taywan 20, Gurtiza 15, Maguliano 13, Mendoza 10, Luciano 7, Estacio 2, De Guzman 2, Dayrit 2, Carlos 1, Gonzales 0, Cadua 0, Boffa 0, Martin 0, Corilla 0
Quarter scores: 24-16, 45-29, 71-45, 89-72
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.