NCAA 95: When it mattered most, Calvin Oftana lives up to billing as MVP

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2019 02:44 PM | Updated as of Nov 16 2019 02:47 PM

Calvin Oftana and the Red Lions toughed out a Game 2 victory over Letran on Friday to send the finals to a deciding game. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines -- On the day he formally received the Most Valuable Player trophy, San Beda's Calvin Oftana showed why he deserved the award.

The 6-foot-4 swingman was the hero in San Beda's 79-76 triumph over Letran in Game 2 of the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball finals. He scored 17 points -- 11 in the fourth quarter -- while grabbing 11 rebounds, and personally made sure to keep San Beda's season alive.

Oftana drove hard for the layup that knotted the count at 76 with less than 20 seconds left, and drew a foul from Letran's Bonbon Batiller to boot. He coolly made the go-ahead free throw, and the Red Lions eventually held on for the narrow win.

"Nice comeback by Calvin," said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez after the game. "I'm happy that he made his shots late in the fourth."

Oftana's performance in Game 2 was a complete contrast to how he played in the series opener Tuesday. He was held to just 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting in Game 1 and crucially bricked a potential go-ahead 3-pointer in the final seconds.

San Beda absorbed a 65-64 defeat, its first loss of the season, and one that ended a 32-game winning streak since August 2018.

For Oftana, San Beda simply got back to what had worked for them all season long.

"Tiwala na lang sa plays ni coach. Kasi sa Game 1, wala talaga kami, kanya-kanya kami, di namin sinusunod 'yun," he said.

" 'Yun lang ginawa namin, nagtiwala lang kami sa kanya, and we played all heart. Ayaw namin matalo, gusto pa namin mag-training, siyempre," he added. 

"Di kami pumupunta sa game na hindi handa, at saka hindi mananalo."

Oftana, who received the MVP award ahead of the game, said he was quick to put the Game 1 loss behind him.

"Game 2 ang iniisip ko. We need to make our shots," he said. "We missed a lot of shots, 3s. 'Yun 'yung parang dehado kami." 

"We take our shots, we make extra shots para mabalik ang kumpyansa namin," he added.

That was exactly what San Beda did, as the Red Lions made nearly 40% of their attempts in Game 2 after shooting just 30% from the field in the first game. They also made 9 of their 30 3-pointers in the contest, three more than the Knights did.

The deciding Game 3 of the NCAA finals is on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

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