MANILA, Philippines – The San Beda Red Lions had enough buffer in the endgame to edge rival Letran Knights, 70-66, and stay unbeaten in the NCAA Season 95 men's basketball at Cuneta Astrodome on Saturday, August 10.
The Red Lions built a double-digit cushion in the 3rd quarter and managed to hold on to the lead despite scoring only 8 points in the final period.
Evan Nelle collected 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists, and Donald Tankoua chipped in 15 points and 4 boards to power the defending champions to their fifth straight victory.
The Knights tried to fight back behind Jerick Balanza, who nailed a crucial triple that trimmed the deficit to 4 and quickly forced San Beda to commit a turnover with 11.7 seconds remaining.
But the Knights failed to convert a basket off a timeout as the Lions escaped with the win.
James Canlas and Calvin Olfana also had 11 points apiece for the Lions, who grabbed momentum early with an 8-0 run that gave them a 21-13 separation in the opening frame.
Balanza, who scored 8 of Letran's 15 points in the 2nd quarter, tried to keep his squad within striking distance but Nelle's three gave San Beda a 39-32 lead at the half.
Peter Alfaro's triple gave San Beda its biggest advantage late in a high-octane 3rd quarter, 62-49.
The Knights, though, leaned on their gutsy defense in hopes of a late comeback but fell short to slip to 4th with a 5-2 record.
Balanza had a game-high 20 points and 5 dimes, while Ato Ular had 11 markers and 7 boards for Letran.
Cardinals score breakthrough
Meanwhile, the Mapua Cardinals crashed in the win column as they took a hard-fought victory over the pesky Arellano Chiefs, 73-64.
Laurenz Victoria capped off a stellar night with a dagger fadeaway that gave the Cardinals a 68-64 lead with less than a minute remaining.
Victoria fired a career-high 29 points on an 8-of-13 shooting along with 8 boards as Paolo Hernandez added 14 points and 7 rebounds for the Cardinals, who snapped a five-game losing skid.
The back-and-forth first half ended with Arellano on top, 35-33 as Raymart Sablan sank a corner three for the Chiefs.
Victoria continued to wreak havoc in a foul-laden 3rd period as he converted a three-point play that gave the Cardinals a slim advantage, 53-50.
Arellano had a 65-63 lead late in the final canto thanks to a Justin Arana basket, but it was the beginning of the end for the Chiefs as their lead guard Kent Salado was called for his fifth foul with less than 3 minutes remaining.
Archie Concepcion and Rence Alcoriza tallied 13 and 10 points, respectively, as Salado dished out an all-around performance with 6 points, 6 rebounds and 11 assists for the Chiefs, whose record dropped to 1-5.
San Beda 70 – Nelle 18, Tankoua 15, Canlas 11, Oftana 11, Alfaro 6, Doliguez 6, Soberano 3, Abuda 0, Bahio 0, Carino 0, Cuntapay 0, Etrata 0.
Letran 66 – Balanza 20, Ular 11, Yu 9, Olivario 7, Muyang 6, Ambohot 4, Caralipio 4, Balagasay 4, Batiller 1, Mina 0, Reyson 0, Sangalang 0, Javillonar 0.
Quarters: 21-17, 39-32, 62-51, 70-66.
Mapua 73 – Victoria 29, Hernandez 14, Gamboa 9, Lugo 6, Serrano 5, Gonzales 4, Bonifacio 3, Nieles 3, Bunag 0, Salenga 0, Garcia 0, Aguirre 0, Nocum 0, Dela Cruz 0, Jabel 0.
Areallano 64 – Concepcion 13, Alcoriza 10, Arana 6, Salado 6, Bayla 6, Gayosa 6, Sablan 5, Oliva 4, Espiritu 2, Segura 2, Talampas 2, Santos 1, Sunga 1, Sacramento 0.
Quarters: 12-15, 33-35, 53-52, 73-64.