A dud. That’s what the much-awaited rematch between the San Beda Red Lions and the San Sebastian Stags turned out to be. It was not nearly as exciting as their first encounter which turned into a classic overtime game.
In the rematch, the Red Lions simply showed that they wanted it more. They wanted to beat the Stags and set up a playoff duel for the number 1 slot. And so, the Red Lions did not to win the game. They were safely in the Top 2 which came with a twice to beat advantage and their would-be opponent, the Letran Knights, haven’t defeated them this season.
Winning over San Sebastian meant they would have to play again two days after, which also meant they will be more tired coming into the Final Four. But all of that didn’t matter to the Red Lions. They wanted to win and they did just that with an emphatic 91-70 decision.
The two teams gave us another classic last Friday. If you judge it by the intensity of the two teams, you’d think they were fighting for the last Final Four slot.
In the dying minutes of the game, an Ian Sanggalang undergoal stab was answered by a Rome dela Rosa deuce which was cancelled by a Calvin Abueva double-pump shot. Garvo Lanete gave the Red Lions some breathing room with a triple but another Sanggalang basket and a couple of free throws from Abueva gave the lead back to San Sebastian, 85-84, with 32 seconds left in the clock.
Does Lanete score on another off balanced three ball to give the Red Lions another two point lead? Of course he does. The Red Lions held on to the lead for good, winning the game 88-85 and gaining the top spot in the Final Four.
San Beda Red Lions (1) Versus Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers (4)
What’s weird about the entire “we want to be number 1” drive of the Red Lions to end the elimination round is that they set themselves up for a match against one of only two teams that defeated them this season.
Back in September, the Red Lions lost to the Heavy Bombers, 76-65. They know the Heavy Bombers are capable of beating them and they will surely prepare better this time around. Garvo Lanete has been awesome as of late, scoring 17 points in the last game of the elimination round and canning two crucial treys to give the Red Lions the number one spot.
What’s dangerous about this San Beda team is that they have four more guys capable of scoring in double digits at any time. There’s Anthony Semerad, Jake Pascual, Rome dela Rosa, and Dave Marcelo. They can also expect a few points here and there from guys like rookie Baser Amer, Anjo Caram, and even Melo Lim.
For JRU, veterans John Lopez and Raycon Kabigting need to play big to give the Heavy Bombers a shot at winning. They also need a lot of help from Nate Matute and consistent rebounding from Jeckster Apinan. Coach Vergel Meneses needs to get the very best out of every player on the lineup to beat a powerhouse team like San Beda.
The San Beda Red Lions are the heavy favorites coming into this match-up and for good reason. JRU is a .500 team which limped its way into the Final 4. They might have had a far tougher road this year but expect San Beda to make in to the NCAA Finals again.
Result: San Beda in 1