SBC’s Big 3 strikes hard as Lions whip Cardinals

Games Tuesday  (San Juan Arena)
10 a.m.- Perpetual vs San Sebastian (jrs)
12 nn.- Jose Rizal vs Lyceum (jrs)
2 p.m.- Perpetual vs San Sebastian (srs)
4 p.m.- Jose Rizal vs Lyceum (srs)

SAN Beda College’s Big Three of Arthur de la Cruz, Baser Amer and Ola Adeogun struck the hardest in the endgame as the Red Lions turned back the Mapua Cardinals, 75-65, yesterday to snatch back the solo lead in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament at the San Juan Arena.

De la Cruz scored a game-high 17 points, including key baskets in the fourth quarter, for the Red Lions, who went on to post their 12th triumph in 16 matches.

The Cardinals tried to fight back behind Josan Nimes, who kept Mapua in the fight, 60-61.

But Dela Cruz scored on a follow-up and a trey on their next play to give San Beda a 63-66 spread with 4:06 to go.

And after Allwell Oraeme struck twice with a layup, and a three-point play to move Mapua within range, 65-68, Adeogun scored on a putback and Amer drilled two free throws to give the Lions the lead for good, 71-65, in the last 31.7 seconds.

“It’s a big win. We get an advantage out of this because it’s now the homestretch. Every game really counts,” said Red Lions’ coach Jamike Jarin.

The win assured the Red Lions of at least a playoff for a Final Four berth and closer to clinching one of the top two seeds that would give them a twice-to-beat advantage.

The Cardinals, with Oraeme hitting 15 points and 21 rebounds, finally lost after a six-game winning streak  and fell into a tie with the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers at fifth (10-6).

The Bombers, with John Pontejos scoring 19 points, remained in contention for a Final Four berth after toppling the University of  Perpetual Help Altas, 62-60.

John Grospe’s putback in the last 2:50 allowed JRU to break a 60-all deadlock, and eventually post their 10th triumph in 16 matches.

The Altas, who fell to third at 11-5,  missed five big attempts in the endgame, including one from Earl Thompson in the final second.

“Buhay pa. May dalawang games pa kami. Crucial ito,” JRU coach Vergel Meneses said.

In juniors’ play, Evan Nelle scored a season’s best 21 points for the defending champion San Beda Red Cubs, who topped the Mapua Red Robins, 89-84, for their 16th straight win yesterday.

The victory moved the Red Cubs two wins closer to an outright finals slot, while snapping the Red Robins’ 14-game winning run.

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