San Beda dominates Arellano to win fifth straight NCAA crown

3 years ago

Too strong. Too efficient. Too confident.

Brandishing anew its menacing form right from the get-go, San Beda handled Arellano U with ease on Wednesday afternoon, hacking out a dominant 89-70 Game 2 victory to clinch a fifth straight title in the 90th NCAA men’s cage tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Fresh from an equally impressive 74-66 in the opener last Monday, the Red Lions made sure this won’t go down to a close fight as graduating forward Anthony Semerad came through with a brilliant offensive performance while his other teammates, notably ace guard Baser Amer, offered commendable jobs on both ends to dominate the outclassed Chiefs anew.

Semerad, who will suit up for the GlobalPort Batang Pier in the pro ranks, waxed hot with a career-high 30 markers and even conspired with back-up guard Dan Sara in a decisive 15-4 run bridging the first two cantos, turning a close 17-14 lead into a 14-point cushion while giving San Beda full control the rest of the way.

Aside from giving a fitting send-off to coach Boyet Fernandez, who will make a return to the pro ranks with the NLEX Road Warriors, the Red Lions also nailed their eighth title since 2006 and their 19th overall—a league best.

San Beda also became the second team in league history to make it five in a row in the men’s cage division since San Sebastian College-Recoletos did the trick from 1993 to 1997.

And it came rather easily.

With top patron and telecommunications mogul Manny V. Pangilinan watching from the stands, the Red Lions showcased their depth as Semerad and Sara delivered the offensive goods while Amer controlled the pace in the early goings.

Although they repeatedly trailed by double digits in the first half and stared at a 25-39 deficit at the break, the Chiefs showed some signs of life in the third behind Keith Agovida, Isaiah Ciriacruz and Levi Hernandez, pulling within seven points on several occasions, the last at 41-48.

But San Beda’s Nigerian center Ola Adeogun and forward Art dela Cruz joined the fray as they frolicked in the lane, their crisp ball movement negating Arellano U’s vaunted full court defense.

With usual top guns Nard Pinto and Jiovani Jalalon groping for form anew, Agovida—who had a team-high 22 points—tried his best to keep the Chiefs in the thick of things, his back-to-back layups allowing them to close in at 56-65 early in the fourth.

The Red Lions, however, refused to be denied as they pounced on the Chiefs’ early foul woes and made a living from the 15-foot line, with Semerad accounting for eight points that saw them pull away for good and virtually cruise to the lopsided finish.

The Main Man: Anthony Semerad proved he’s indeed ripe for the pro ranks as he showcased his vast offensive arsenal to the hilt, hitting on all cylinders throughout on his way to becoming the Finals MVP.

Honorable Mention: Although he didn’t make ample attempts from the field, Baser Amer controlled the tempo in San Beda’s favor as he already racked up 11 assists in the first half—an NCAA Record.

Game Turning Point: After the Chiefs pulled within seven midway in the third canto, the Red Lions utilized center Ola Adeogun to the hilt as they relentlessly attacked the lane and made enough buckets to foil repeated AU rallies.

The scores:

San Beda (89) — A. Semerad 30, Pascual 16, Adeogun 15, Dela Cruz 12, Mendoza 6, Sara 6, Amer 4, Koga 0, D. Semerad 0, Tongco 0.

Arellano (70) — Agovida 22, Ciriacruz 15, Jalalon 6, Hernandez 6, Enriquez 6, Holts 6, Pito 3, Salcedo 2, Bangga 2, Ortega 2, Gumaru 0, Nicholls 0, Caperal 0, Cadavis 0.
Quarters: 22-14, 39-25, 63-52, 89-70.