By Jerome Lagunzad
1 p.m. – La Salle-Greenhills vs Mapua
3 p.m. – San Beda vs Lyceum
San Beda displayed its championship pedigree yesterday and turned back host San Sebastian, 76-71, in their knockout battle to book a return trip to the NCAA seniors basketball finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Veteran big man Javee Mocon flexed his muscles throughout with a monster ’20-20’ performance while star guard Robert Bolick provided timely sniping from beyond the arc as the Red Lions jumped the gun on the Golden Stags to take the initiative before fending off San Sebastian’s rally.
With the wire-to-wire win, its third straight over San Sebastian in as many meetings this season, San Beda earned the right to face outright finalist Lyceum in a best-of-three titular showdown starting on Friday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-3 Mocon who did most of the heavy lifting with game-highs of 23 points and 22 rebounds on top of five blocks. “Pinatunayan talaga namin na we’re really the defending champions.”
Indeed. Fresh from a 19-day break, the Red Lions showed no signs of slowing down as Bolick knocked down nine of his 21 points, all from beyond the arc, in their roaring start that saw them take control early on and build a lead as high of 18.
The Golden Stags settled down in the second canto and, as expected, came charging back in the third behind their defensive pressure.
Jayson David’s third triple of the game followed by a Ryan Costelo floater pulled San Sebastian within 62-67 with more than five minutes to play, keeping San Beda’s faithful on the edge of their seats.
But the Red Lions responded on a big way as Mocon and Cameroon import Donald Tankoua asserted their might over the Stags counterparts who apparently lost their cool – and focus too – that helped them restore their lead back to 76-62 with two minutes to play.
Earlier, diminutive guard Joel Cagulangan stood tallest down the stretch as La Salle-Greenhills outlasted San Beda in a classic triple-overtime showdown, 110-108, to advance to the juniors cage finals.
SAN BEDA 76 — Mocon 23, Bolick 21, Tankoua 13, Soberano 9, Potts 6, Presbitero 4, Abuda 0, Cariño 0, Doliguez 0, Noah 0, Tongco 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 71 — David 16, Costelo 15, Calisaan 10, Capobres 7, Calma 6, Gayosa 6, Bulanadi 4, Navarro 3, Ilagan 2, Mercado 2, Baetiong 0, Valdez 0.
Quarters: 26-11, 44-31, 57-51, 76-71.
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