15 November 2019
By Maxine Louise Lagman
MANILA, Philippines – Defending champs are not going to give up the title that easily.
San Beda University got back at Colegio de San Juan de Letran with a thrilling 79-76 win in Game 2 of the best-of-three Finals in the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday afternoon.
After the devastating 65-64 loss in their first match, the Red Lions made sure for the Knights to feel their wrath this second game.
San Beda was off to a hot start, as they limited Letran to only seven points in the first quarter. Most Valuable Player Calvin Oftana powered his team through to keep a 12-point lead until the second quarter, 37-35.
Letran got back from the dug-out with a renewed system for the third quarter, and banked on the heroics of Fran Yu and Larry Muyang, who boosted the squad take the lead out of San Beda’s hands, 56-53.
The Knights kept the lead as Muyang’s jumper gave them a 76-74 advantage, 55.4 ticks to go. San Beda looked to lose once again in front of their faithful supporters in the jampacked arena as big man Donald Tankoua committed a turnover.
However, their defense strengthened in the final seconds of the game and forced a stop on Muyang. Oftana got possession of the ball and drove it straight to the basket, and through the defense of Bonbon Batiller, 19.1 seconds left.
Oftana completed three-point play by converting bonus free throw for a 77-76 lead and cruised to victory from there as they booked a do-or-die match next week, Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“A win is a win, and we’ll take this one,” said San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez. “I’m just relieved that we won this game. I salute my players also. That’s what character is.”
James Canlas finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, meanwhile Oftana had a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double, along with two blocks and two assists. Clint Doliguez chipped in 17 markers of his own to go with six boards.
“We played all heart,” said Oftana post-game. “Ayaw pa namin matalo, gusto pa namin mag-training.”
For Letran, Yu had 23 points and five assists, while Muyang had 17 markers in the losing effort.
SAN BEDA 79 — Canlas 21, Oftana 17, Doliguez 17, Carino 7, Nelle 5, Soberano 5, Cuntapay 3, Tankoua 2, Abuda 2, Bahio 0, Noah 0,
LETRAN 76 — Yu 23, Muyang 17, Batiller 11, Ambohot 9, Balanza 9, Caralipio 7, Olivario 0, Ular 0, Mina 0, Reyson 0, Balagasay 0, Sangalang 0.
Quarters: 18-7, 37-25, 53-56, 79-76.
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