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Lions are Kings of the NCAA

San Beda sweeps Arellano U in finals.

The team that was designed to play selfless was able to reclaim its familiar role last night.

A year after suffering a devastating loss to an archrival in the finals, the San Beda Red Lions were once again crowned as NCAA champions after holding off the Arellano University Chiefs, 83-73, to sweep their best-of-three finals in front of a jubilant crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Led by a collection of first year players, a veteran guard in his final season and a coach out to silence his critics, the Red Lions reached the pinnacle of the country’s oldest collegiate league for 9th time in 11 seasons while erasing the bitter memory of falling short last season against the Letran Knights.

“It was a heartbreaking loss last year,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin. “It really took me a year to get back here. And along the way, I had all these young men so I’m just happy.”

Jarin, who simply described the way his team played its special season as “selfless”, was given the ride of a lifetime after the Red Lions crushed the Chiefs’ bid to force a deciding game.

One of the players who heeded Jarin’s call was Cameroonian forward Arnaud Noah.

Noah repaid the faith given to him by Jarin before the season when he was included in the final roster by making the biggest plays with less than five minutes remaining in the contest.

He set up an AC Soberano triple that put San Beda up 72-71. Noah then negated a Kent Salado layup with a three-point play off a Dioncee Holts foul for a 75-73 lead, before feeding Davon Potts for a backbreaking triple that put the Red Lions ahead 78-73, 1:48 remaining.

The 22-year-old Noah finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and two assists, earning him the nod as the Most Valuable Player of the title series after being forced to play a bigger role following the season-ending ACL injury of fellow Cameroonian Donald Tankoua in the eliminations.

“I saw my friend (Tankoua) really down because of the ACL injury. Few people can make that stats of 16 points and 12 rebounds so I just stepped up,” said Noah, who watched helplessly from the stands last year when the Red Lions saw the end of their five-year title reign.

Another player who delivered in his NCAA debut was Robert Bolick, who followed up his 24-point performance in the narrow 88-85 win in Game 1 with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists.

SAN BEDA 83 – Noah 18, Soberano 16, Bolick 13, Mocon 10, Potts 10, Sara 7, Presbitero 5, Adamos 2, Bonsubre 2, Tongco 0, Optana 0, Carlos 0, Alas 0.

ARELLANO 73 – Jalalon 19, Enriquez 14, Nichols 12, Canete 8, Gumaru 6, Meca 5, Salado 4, Cadavis 4, Flores 1, Holts 0, Villoria 0, Aguilar 0.

Quarters: 18-25; 45-40; 63-60; 83-73.