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Lions roar to dream final

JM Calma of San Sebastian College soars for a one-hander against the defense of Arnaud Noah of San Beda in their sudden death for the second finals berth in the NCAA at the Mall of Asia Arena. JOEY MENDOZA

Survive Stags to arrange duel with Pirates

Games Friday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)

1 p.m. Mapua vs La Salle Greenhills (Jrs)

3:30 p.m. Lyceum vs San Beda (Srs)

MANILA, Philippines — The San Beda Red Lions assumed the role that was theirs for the taking all-season long – to be the Lyceum of the Philippines U Pirates’ worthy challengers for the crown.

The Lions ended the San Sebastian Stags’ ambitious drive with a strong start for a 76-71 victory in their sudden death for the other finals berth in the 93rd NCAA season at the MOA Arena yesterday, making it to the title playoff for the 12th straight season.

Looming large in the final are the unbeaten Pirates with 18 straight wins but if there’s one squad capable of stopping them – with experience and manpower – it’s the roaring Red Lions.

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Game One of the best-of-three finals is set on Friday, starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“I guess we’re happy now but we still have a job to do,” said Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez.

Javee Mocon led the Red Lions, winners of five straight crowns from 2010 to 2014, with 23 points, 22 rebounds and nine assists. But it was veteran Robert Bolick who got the team going with three three-pointers in the opening quarter, including an incredible buzzer-beater just past the free-throw line from the other end of the court.

San Beda led by 18 points in the second period but had to hold back the rugged-playing Stags in the third quarter.

The Red Lions kept their composure throughout the physical contest where a couple of Stags were called for unsportsmanlike fouls.

San Sebastian committed 26 fouls in 40 minutes, allowing San Beda to sink 25 of 36 free throws. San Beda only committed 10 fouls in the game, leading to only six free throws for their opponents.

“In the end we just wanted to come out as winners,” added Fernandez, an ex-PBA player who has found a niche in coaching.

The Pirates won all their 18 games in the elims and made it to the finals without going through the extra test.

By the time the final begins, Lyceum would have been officially out of the court for 22 days.

The scores:

San Beda 76 – Mocon 23, Bolick 21, Tankoua 13, Soberano 9, Potts 6, Presbitero 4, Abuda 0, Cariño 0, Doliguez 0, Noah 0, Tongco 0.

San Sebastian 71 – David 16, Costelo 15, Calisaan 10, Capobres 7, Calma 6, Gayosa 6, Bulanadi 4, Navarro 3, Ilagan 2, Mercado 2, Baetiong 0, Valdez 0.

Quarterscores: 26-11; 44-31; 57-51; 76-71

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