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San Beda made its title campaign felt yesterday as it bested defending champion and archrival Letran, 89-85, at the start of the 92nd NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Red Lions controlled the tempo for most part of the game despite the resilient efforts of the Knights to barge into the winning column.
The victory was a redemption of sorts for San Beda, which lost the title to Letran last year in an attempt to extend its five-year reign.
Javee Mocon and rookie Fil-Am Davon Potts starred for the Red Lions with 18 and 16 points, respectively, with Mocon pouring 11 markers in the first half and Potts scattering nine in the fourth quarter.
It was a good start for San Beda, which missed five key players this season, including Ola Adeogun and Baser Amer.
Letran threatened after three quarters as it cut a double-digit deficit to 62-60. But Potts set the tone for San Beda by leading the team’s 13-4 run for a 75-64 lead midway in the final period.
The Knights refused to give up easily and inched closer in the final two minutes, 82-79, but again Potts kept the Lions composed until the final buzzer.
SAN BEDA 89 – Mocon 18, Potts 16, Sara 14, Tankoua 13, Tongco 9, Bolick 7, Noah 4, Presibitero 3, Navarro 2, Soberano 2, Bonsubre 1, Adamos 0, Alas 0, Carlos 0, Optana 0.
LETRAN 85 – Quinto 23, Nambatac 18, Calvo 13, Sollano 11, Balanza 8, Apreku 7, Luib 5, Balagasay 0, Dela Peña 0, Pambid 0, Sario 0.
Quarters: 27-17; 45-36; 62–60; 89-85.