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Red Lions try to keep NC finals tradition

MANILA, Philippines — A finalist the last 11 years, winning all but two championships, San Beda isn’t about to miss another crack at the NCAA crown.

“We have a tradition to preserve and we will do our best to keep it,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, whose Lions will battle the San Sebastian Stags at the MOA Arena in Pasay City on Tuesday for the right to play the Lyceum of the Phl U Pirates in the 93rd NCAA finals.

The Lions have made the NCAA Finals their home the past decade, falling short for the crown just twice, including in 2009 when San Sebastian’s Calvin Abueva, Ian Sangalang and Ronald Pascual lorded it over the field. They also lost the title to Letran in 2015.

This year, San Beda finished No. 2 at the end of the double elimination round, losing twice to unbeaten LPU but remains upbeat of its chances for a 12th straight finals stint.

Fernandez said they would need to rely on its league-best defense (65.8 points) to neutralize the Stags firepower.

“We’ve made it this far because of our defense and we hope to continue to play harder on that end,” he said.

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But San Sebastian will also come into the match with a defensive mindset after finishing at No. 3 (70.2).

That could set the stage for a low-scoring, highly physical match with the winner sealing a best-of-three duel with the history-seeking Pirates.  

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