MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) The San Beda University Red Lions are headed straight to the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball finals.
This, after San Beda thoroughly dismantled Lyceum of the Philippines University, 85-62, to complete a sweep of the elimination round on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
San Beda won all 18 of their games, marking the second time that they have swept the elimination round. The Red Lions went 16-0 in Season 86, when the league had just nine teams. They are also the second team to go 18-0, after Lyceum in Season 93.
With their feat, San Beda now advances straight to the finals -- the 14th season in a row that they have advanced to the championship round.
The Final 4 will be contested via stepladder format, with the No. 4 seed taking on third-seeded Colegio de San Juan de Letran. The winner of that match advances to play the second-seeded Pirates in a knockout game.
As it stands, the fourth seed is still up for grabs, with San Sebastian College and Mapua University contesting the last semis ticket.
"It's a bit of fulfillment on my part that we got this achievement," said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, who joined Frankie Lim as the mentors who steered San Beda to an elimination round sweep.
"(But) my job is not yet done, our job is not yet done," he added. "It will be a tough finals, whoever we're gonna face."
Donald Tankoua made the most of the absence of Lyceum counterpart Mike Nzeusseu to dominate inside the paint. He put up 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, on top of 8 rebounds. Top MVP candidate Calvin Oftana had 18 points, 10 boards, and 2 assists, while James Canlas had 17 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 dimes.
The Red Lions broke the game open in the second quarter, when they outscored the Pirates, 28-19, to take a 48-36 advantage into the break.
The Pirates came to within 11 points, 51-40, with 8:18 to go in the third quarter, thanks to a Jaycee Marcelino lay-up, but San Beda answered with an 8-point flurry. Oftana and Canlas each nailed a triple, and Tankoua added a lay-up for a 59-40 lead with 5:32 left in the frame.
It was all San Beda from there. They surged ahead by 20 points, 71-51, with a Clint Doliguez triple with under nine minutes to play. Their lead ballooned to 25 points, 85-60, when Tankoua split his charities with just under 30 seconds to go in the game.
The Pirates, playing without Nzeusseu, were out-rebounded, 49-39. Jaycee Marcelino led Lyceum with 17 points, and Jeff Santos had 12. But they shot just 30.26% from the field, while allowing San Beda to convert 50% of their shots.
The NCAA playoffs start on November 5.
SAN BEDA 85 - Tankoua 26, Oftana 18, Canlas 17, Doliguez 5, Soberano 5, Abuda 5, Nelle 4, Carino 4, Bahio 1, Alfaro 0
LPU 62 - Marcelino JC 17, Santos 12, Guinto 6, Navarro 6, Valdez 6, Remulla 5, Caduyac 4, Ibanez 4, Marcelino JV 2, David 0, Tansingco 0, Yong 0
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