DEFENDING champion San Beda overpowered Emilio Aguinaldo College, 98-66, to extend its perfect run to 10 games yesterday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
The Red Lions, who also improved to 22-0 all-time against the Generals, only needed a huge 38-9 second quarter blitz to put the game beyond recall and send the enemy crashing to its ninth loss in 10 games.
Later, last season’s runner-up Lyceum of the Philippines University avenged its first round loss to Arellano University with a 93-90 win for a 7-3 mark alongside Letran, which blasted Jose Rizal University, 81-61, in second place.
San Beda fired 15 three-pointers, nearly matching the season-high of 16 triples that the Mendiola-based squad converted in a 102-56 rout of University of Perpetual Help System Dalta last Aug. 16.
“It was really the product of work ethic of my players,” said Lions coach Boyet Fernandez. “My players really come to practice every day with the mindset that they have to improve their shooting and skills.”
Evan Nelle had a double-double outing of 13 points and 11 assists to go with four steals and two rebounds. Cameroon’s Donald Tankoua and Clint Doliguez also scored 13 markers while AC Soberano added 12 points for San Beda.
Calvin Oftana, who is lording it over in the season MVP race at the end of the first round, sustained his stellar play for the Lions with 12 points, eight rebounds and two assists.
But Oftana, a Dumaguete native who ably filled the huge void left by Javee Mocon, is focusing on the ultimate goal of helping San Beda in “Well I always make sure that my players realize that individual awards is just second to winning a championship. I’m happy for Calvin. I really appreciate him. I’m happy that he is the leading candidate for the individual award but again, it will be nothing, it will be zero if we will not win a championship,” said Fernandez.
Aside from Oftana, also in contention for the highest individual honor are Nelle, Tankoua and James Canlas, a testament of the Lions’ tremendous firepower.
Despite the lofty standing, San Beda is simply trying to improve on its weak points as the tournament goes further.
“We’re No. 1 and hopefully, we could sustain this,” said Fernandez. “We just have to keep hungry every game.”
Now half-a-game up for the No. 4 spot, the Pirates are looking to elevate their performance several notches higher in the second round.
“What is important right now is how to grow together,” said LPU mentor Topex Robinson.
Cameroon’s Mike Nzeusseu finished with 23 points, nine boards, two blocks and two steals while Jaycee Marcelino chipped in 12 points, seven assists and five boards for the Pirates.
Kent Salado produced 21 points, seven assists, three steals and three boards but his efforts were not enough for the Chiefs to save them from another defeat, the eighth in 10 contests.
Marwin Taywan had 19 points, five assists, three steals and three rebounds for EAC, which holds the league’s worst record at 1-9.
In juniors play, Rhayyan Amsali and Yukien Andrada teamed up for 26 points as San Beda downed EAC, 83-54, for a league-best 9-1 card, while JR Barba and Roie Panganiban each scored 20 points to lead LPU to a 76-61 rout of Arellano for a 7-3 record.
San Beda (98) - Nelle 13, Tankoua 13, Doliguez 13, Soberano 12, Oftana 12, Canlas 9, Alfaro 8, Bahio 7, Etrata 3, Cariño 3, Cuntapay 2, Noah 1, Obenza 1, Visser 1, Abuda 0.
EAC (66) - Taywan 19, Maguliano 17, Luciano 7, De Guzman 5, Cadua 3, Mandoza 3, Carlos 3, Martin 3, Estacio 2, Gurtiza 2, Dayrit 2, Corilla 0, Boffa 0, Gonzales 0.
Quarterscores: 16-14, 54-23, 75-42, 98-66
LPU (93) - Nzeusseu 23, Marcelino JC. 12, Marcelino JV. 10, Caduyac 9, Navarro 9, David 8, Tansingco 6, Ibañez 5, Santos 5, Valdez 2, Yong 2, Guinto 2, Pretta 0.
Arellano (90) - Salado 21, Bayla 12, Concepcion 12, Arana 11, Oliva 11, Sablan 9, Talampas 8, Alcoriza 4, Segura 2, Gayosa 0, De Guzman 0, Espiritu 0.
Quarterscores: 23-16, 41-48, 67-67, 93-90
Letran (81) - Ular 17, Yu 16, Batiller 13, Muyang 10, Caralipio 6, Reyson 5, Ambohot 4, Balanza 4, Balagasay 2, Javillonar 2, Sangalang 2, Guarino 0, Olivario 0.
JRU (61) - Delos Santos 14, Amores 11, Arenal 10, Miranda 8, Aguilar 6, Dela Rosa 5, Vasquez 3, Dionisio 2, Macatangay 2, Abaoag 0, Jungco 0.
Quarterscores: 18-19, 41-34, 54-49, 81-61