MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATED) For the third season in a row, San Beda University is the last team standing in the NCAA.
The Red Lions, behind their veteran troika of Robert Bolick, Javee Mocon, and Donald Tankoua, overwhelmed the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates in Game 2 of the Season 94 finals, 71-56, on Monday at the packed Mall of Asia Arena.
The comfortable win, which saw San Beda lead by as much as 21 points, gave the Red Lions a two-game sweep of their best-of-3 series, and completed their "three-peat." It was also their 11th crown in the last 13 years, and 22nd overall.
Bolick struggled with his shot, making only one of 11 shots for four points. But he masterfully ran San Beda's offense, tallying 12 assists in the game. His prime beneficiary was Mocon, who put up a team-high 16 points on top of 11 rebounds and five blocks. Mocon also went on to win Finals MVP honors.
Tankoua, last season's Finals MVP, had 13 points and 16 rebounds, while Clint Doliguez came off the bench for 14 points on just seven shots.
"Masaya ako, for all our preparations for this season, nakuha namin ang championship. Nakuha namin 'yung three-peat," beamed San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez after the game.
"Nagpapasalamat talaga ako sa lahat ng players. Kung 'di dahil sa kanila, hindi po kami magcha-champion, hindi kami magti-three-peat," he added.
It was a wire-to-wire triumph for the Red Lions, who weathered a first quarter barrage from the comebacking CJ Perez. Last season's MVP, Perez returned from a one-game suspension and made an impact immediately: he scored 11 of Lyceum's 15 points in the first quarter. However, the balanced San Beda attack allowed them to take a 23-15 lead.
The Red Lions settled for a 39-33 halftime advantage, and only had a 49-44 lead entering the final frame as the Pirates refused to go away easily. Lyceum came to within four points, 51-47, with still 8:31 left after Perez zoomed for a lay-up in transition.
San Beda displayed tremendous composure, however. Bolick assisted on a Doliguez triple, and Doliguez turned the other cheek one possession later, feeding Mocon for a three-pointer of his own. That gave the Red Lions a 57-47 lead with 7:40 left.
A split at the line by Perez temporarily stemmed the tide. But Donald Tankoua connected on two straight lay-ups that pushed them even further ahead, 61-48, and San Beda cruised from there.
They led by as much as 21 points, 71-51, after yet another triple from Doliguez and a slam dunk by Tankoua that punctuated San Beda's dominance of the game, and of the finals as a whole.
"It's the product of the preparation and the scouting," Fernandez said of their superb performance in the finals. "We're always there for every game of LPU. I watched their games live because I want to see how Coach Topex (Robinson) adjusts, how CJ plays, how the Marcelino twins play, and how Mike Nzeusseu plays."
"It's the adjustments," he stressed.
The Red Lions shot 35.71% from the field, making 11 three-pointers in the game.
They limited the Pirates to 31.75% shooting, and stood strong in the face of Lyceum's pressure defense. They committed only 15 turnovers, three fewer than Lyceum had.
Perez scored 19 points in his last collegiate game, along with six rebounds and four assists, but he was also saddled with three early fouls that limited his time in the first half.
Jaycee Marcelino had 13 points, and Nzeusseu added 11 points and 13 rebounds. But the Pirates missed Jayvee Marcelino, who suffered an ankle injury in practice.
SAN BEDA 71 -- Mocon 16, Doliguez 14, Tankoua 13, Kwekuteye 9, Soberano 8, Oftana 5, Bolick 4, Presbitero 2, Abuda 0, Cabanag 0.
LPU 56 -- Perez 19, Jc. Marcelino 13, Nzeusseu 11, Pretta 5, Ayaay 4, Caduyac 2, Serrano 2, Yong 0.
Quarter scores: 23-15, 39-33, 49-44, 71-56.
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