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San Beda Red Cubs reach finals via 18-game sweep

THE San Beda Red Cubs turned back the Letran Squires, 76-67, at the San Juan Arena to complete an 18-game sweep of the eliminations for an automatic finals berth in the juniors’ division of the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament.

San Beda College’s Micole Solera (left) is blocked by Letran’s Kevin Racal in an NCAA game won by the Red Lions, 77-73, on Tuesday. BROSI GONZALES

By doing so, the Red Cubs, who will enjoy a thrice-to-beat advantage just like they did back in 2013, are on track for a record seventh straight crown.

Reserve players Joshua Tagala, John Lagumen and Eduardo Velasquez scored 14, 13 and 11 points, respectively, for the Red Cubs,  who, after a slow start, began pulling away in the second quarter and ended the half with a 36-28 lead.

“It was not easy. They were ahead in the first quarter. But we bounced back when our game finally clicked in the second,” said Red Cubs coach JB Sison.

The Red Cubs’ dance partner in the finals will be determined after the stepladder semifinals and playoffs involving the Mapua Red Robins, the Arellano University Braves, the La Salle Greenhills Greenies and the Lyceum Junior Pirates.

The Mapua Red Robins played minus coach Randy Alcantara in the second half after he got ejected, but still got away with a 64-57 victory over the La Salle Greenhills Greenies, 64-57.

Michael Enriquez had 14 points for the Red Robins, who assured themselves of a second semifinal slot with their 15-2 win-loss record.

Because of the loss, the Greenies will meet the Lyceum Junior Pirates in a playoff for the fourth semis slot as both share the same 11-7 card.

In the other juniors’ match, Guilmer de la Torre scored 25 points for the Arellano Braves, who smothered EAC-ICA, 92-74, to take the third semis slot at 12-6.

The Red Cubs leaned on a 13-0 capped by a free throw from Velasquez, while Evan Nelle added a trey that erased a 16-17 deficit and turn it into a 29-23 edge.

Tagala struck with seven points in the third and led another 13-0 blast, which gave the Red Cubs a comfortable 58-41 spread.

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