MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE)—Defending champion San Beda University used a big fourth quarter to crush Lyceum of the Philippines University, 88-73, in NCAA Season 95 men's basketball on Tuesday.
In a rematch of last season's finals, the Red Lions lost all of an 18-point lead in the first half at FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan, but recovered in the fourth quarter to claim a big victory.
San Beda remains unbeaten in Season 95, improving to 7-0.
Lyceum, meanwhile, saw its 5-game winning streak come to an end, as the Pirates dropped to 6-2.
"Our defense and our 3-point shooting led us through this game," said San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez. "It's all for my players. This game is for them."
"Hopefully, we will not stop here. It's only a game, and we have so many games to go," he added. "I just like that we separated ourselves a little bit from the teams in our back."
Calvin Oftana led the way for the Red Lions, putting up 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting along with 12 rebounds. Donald Tankoua had 19 points, Clint Doliguez added 15 markers, and Evan Nelle had 14 points and 7 assists.
After trailing 44-36 at the half, the Pirates erased the deficit in the third frame, thanks to Jayson David and the Marcelino twins. An and-1 by Jayvee Marcelino made it a one-possession game, 48-46, and David's triple with 7 minutes left put the Pirates on top, 49-48.
Oftana's lay-up restored the lead to San Beda, but Mike Nzeusseu answered right back to give Lyceum the advantage, 51-50, with 6:17 to go in the third period.
It turned out to be the last time that the Pirates would have the lead. A split at the line by James Canlas and another Oftana bucket pushed San Beda ahead, 53-51, and the Red Lions carried a 61-58 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Pirates were still within striking distance, 70-64, thanks to back-to-back hits by Nzeusseu. But San Beda's defense forced Lyceum into turnovers and bad shots, and they scored 18 unanswered points while holding the Pirates scoreless for over five minutes.
San Beda took its biggest lead, 86-64, off a Tankoua bucket with 1:54 left before both coaches emptied their benches.
"Nagpapasalamat ako sa players ko for all the sacrifices they have endured in the last few days," said Fernandez, admitting that the Red Lions had "over-practiced" to ensure they were prepared for the Pirates.
The Red Lions have now won 21 straight games dating back to last season. Their last loss came on August 21, 2018 — a 73-66 setback to the CJ Perez-led Pirates in Season 94.
Nzeusseu finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds for the Pirates, while Jaycee Marcelino added 13 points, but also committed 7 turnovers.
SAN BEDA 88 — Oftana 20, Tankoua 19, Doliguez 15, Nelle 14, Canlas 9, Bahio 8, Abuda 3, Etrata 0, Soberano 0, Cuntapay 0, Alfaro 0, Carino
LPU 73 — Nzeusseu 18, Marcelino JC 13, David 10, Marcelino JV 8, Santos 6, Ibanez 5, Navarro 4, Pretta 3, Caduyac 2, Tansingco 2, Valdez 2, Guinto 0
QUARTER SCORES: 29-17, 44-36, 61-58, 88-73
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