MANILA, Phillippines – San Beda Red Lions head coach Boyet Fernandez, like the program he’s holding, has had a consistent public image. Aside from being a multi-titled champion, Fernandez is known to be an amiable figure off the court, sharing laughs with reporters in post-game press conferences.
This time, however, the 47-year old mentor was not in a jolly mood as his defending champion squad won against the Letran Knights, 74-68, but gave up a 22-point 4th quarter lead in the process.
Spearheaded by the NCAA’s new triple-double man Bong Quinto and ever-reliable guard JP Calvo, the Final Four-contending Knights charged to a massive 23-2 run in the game’s final 6 minutes. The Red Lions got a lucky break off penalty shots in the waning seconds, however, to barely pull off their tenth win of Season 94.
For an elite coach like Fernandez, a near-collapse of this magnitude was simply unacceptable, and he put his bench players on the hot seat as a result.
“If we had lost this game, I should probably blame myself for that because I gave everybody a chance to play,” he told reporters post-game. “The other guys who came in simply don’t want to really step up their game. They thought that it was already a won game for us. I hope they realize what [just happened]. The game is not yet over until the final buzzer sounds.”
Attempts-wise, the Red Lion bench - 3/14 (21%) - outgunned the starters – 4/12 (33%) – from downtown. Radge Tongco even managed 3 deep shots with no make in 2 minutes on the court.
“That’s simply not acceptable – the fact that if you haven’t played for the whole [three] quarters and you’re given a chance to play in the 4th quarter, it doesn’t mean you just pile on three-pointers and not play defense,” Fernandez went on. “We’re not like that team. We’re not that team in the 4th quarter. First 3 quarters, that’s San Beda. Fourth quarter, I really don’t know what’s that team. I’m sorry, I’m really pissed off about it.”
Heading into their game on Friday against the win-starved contender Perpetual Help Altas, Fernandez is just hoping that this game would serve as a wake-up call. As is the case with top-tier teams, every opponent they face would bring nothing less than their “A” game. Letran was all the proof San Beda needed. – Rappler.com