The San Beda Red Lions claimed their fifth straight NCAA basketball title after defeating Arellano University, 89-70 in game 2 of the finals. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The San Beda Red Lions thoroughly outplayed the Arellano University Chiefs in Game 2 of the NCAA Season 90 Finals to notch a dominant 89-70 victory and win a fifth consecutive men's basketball championship Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Red Lions got solid contributions across the board, especially from Anthony Semerad and Baser Amer, as they bucked the Chiefs' aggressive full court press to make history by winning their 19th NCAA championship.
Semerad scored 30 points, making four of his eight triples, and grabbed six boards. Amer got the rout started in the first half with his masterful control of the game en route to a 13-assist performance, as the Red Lions completed a sweep of the best-of-three series.
"It's for the boys. They really played the game, they want to finish it, they want to enjoy the five-peat, and they made history," San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez said after the game.
San Beda took a double-digit lead in the second quarter and was never really troubled by Arellano, who could not get their offense on track and missed several point-blank lay-ups that could have changed the complexion of the game.
The Chiefs briefly threatened in the third quarter when they cut the lead to seven points three times -- the last at 48-41 -- but each of their rallies was met by huge shots from the Red Lions, usually from Semerad.
The San Beda lead ballooned to as large as 20 points late in the final quarter, 88-68, as Arellano got into penalty situation early and the Red Lions made repeated trips to the free throw line.
Back-to-back baskets by graduating forward Kyle Pascual made it 68-56 with less than eight minutes left in the final quarter, and the Chiefs soon succumbed to foul trouble as they were called for three fouls in less than a minute, taking the wind out of their sails.
"I was really surprised by how they started, but I told my boys that whatever (Arellano) will do, we just have to stick to the system," said Fernandez. "I've been watching the games of Arellano, and every time they score, it's only because of transition offense and turnover points."
"So we really tried to control the tempo of the ball game. Every time they rush, I go up to them and tell them not to rush the execution, because that's the only time Arellano can score off us -- because of our inability to sprint back to the paint and defend the fastbreak," he added.
San Beda has now won five consecutive titles and eight of the last nine in the NCAA.
"They tied San Sebastian (for most number of consecutive NCAA titles), so hopefully, they will look for a six-peat next year," said Fernandez.
Anthony Semerad was named the Most Valuable Player of the Finals series after averaging 22 points in the two games of the series.
"You cannot question Anthony. He's been there all year long, he's been one of my top defenders, and he's transformed from an offensive player to a defensive player as well," said Fernandez.
"It's a great feeling," said the PBA-bound Semerad. "But it wasn't just me. It was my teammates and the coach. I have to give credit to everyone because it was a team effort."
The Chiefs, making their first ever Finals appearance, simply had no answer defensively when the Red Lions started making their shots from beyond the arc, and had no rim protection as well as San Beda found it easy to score inside the paint.
Arellano found some success with their full court press, forcing 26 San Beda turnovers that they converted to 17 points. But more often than not, the Red Lions were able to beat the press and get easy baskets on the break.
"I do credit (Arellano)," said Fernandez. "They will not be here in the FInals if they're just a so-so team. They're a very, very strong team. It's probably championship jitters that took over them in the FInals, but hey, they're a strong team."
Keith Agovida led the way again for Arellano with 22 points, and Isiah CiriaCruz added 15 markers. But Mythical Five member Jiovani Jalalon was shut down, scoring only six points, and three Arellano players fouled out in the fourth quarter.
The Red Lions led by as much as 16 points twice in the second quarter, 37-21 and again at 39-23, as the Chiefs' offense sputtered after a solid start.
Arellano actually led, 7-4, in the early goings of the first period, but San Beda soon asserted control with Amer leading the way.
With Amer creating looks for his teammates, San Beda took a 22-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, which turned into a 28-14 advantage after the first minute of the second frame when Amer assisted on back-to-back three-pointers by Dan Sara.
The lead ballooned to 16 points when Anthony Semerad hit a three and center Ola Adeogun added two free throws. After a jumper from Ciriacruz broke the Chiefs' silence, Amer and Adeogun conspired in a pick-and-roll play to again make it a 16-point lead, 39-23.
The Chiefs played better in the third period as CiriaCruz and Agovida attacked the San Beda defense and trimmed the lead to only seven points, the last at 41-48 after Levi Hernandez made a jumper. But the Chiefs could not defend without fouling, and the Red Lions made the most of their free throws to again build a double-digit lead.
The Red Lions wound up making 35 of their 50 free throw attempts, while the Chiefs made 15 of 24. San Beda also won the battle of the boards, 53-45. San Beda had 22 assists - 13 coming from Amer - while Arellano only had four as a team.
San Beda finished the game shooting 41% from the field, while holding Arellano to 33% field goal shooting.
San Beda won Game 1, 74-66, to claim a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
SBC 89 - A. Semerad 30, Pascual 16, Adeogun 15, De La Cruz 12, Mendoza 6, Sara 6, Amer 4, Koga 0, D. Semerad 0, Tongco 0.
AU 70 - Agovida 22, CiriaCruz 15, Jalalon 6, Hernandez 6, Enriquez 6, Holts 6, Pinto 3, Salcedo 2, Bangga 2, Ortega 2, Gumaru 0, Nicholls 0, Caperal 0, Cadavis 0.
Quarter-scoring: 22-14, 39-25, 63-52, 89-70