Lions roar to four-peat, best Knights
Lions roar to four-peat, best Knights
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - November 16, 2013 - 5:43pm

MANILA, Philippines – San Beda rode on the massive performances of Art dela Cruz and Nigerian Ola Adeogun as it turned back Letran, 60-56, to clinch the 89th NCAA senior basketball title and extend its dynastic reign for another season at the packed crowd at the MOA Arena in Pasay City Saturday.

Dela Cruz and Adeogun brought it all out to the floor and willed the Lions to their first ever four-peat feat, a seventh championship in the last eight seasons and 18th title overall that underscored their league domination in the last decade.

Dela Cruz made the clutch plays and shots and finished with game-highs 20 points and 16 rebounds while the 6-8 Adeogun had a monster effort of 17 points, 13 boards and three blocks, including one potential game-tying shot by Kevin Racal in the stretch to seal San Beda's second straight 2-1 series win over Letran.

"Credit this win to my boys, who played with hearts of champions," said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, who jumped and celebrated in frenzy on the court with his players right after the endgame buzzer sounded.

Dela Cruz though edged Adeogun for the Finals MVP plum.

"I'm happy I won this award but I will be equally happy if any of my teammates won it because winning the championship is enough for me," said dela Cruz, whose father Art, Sr. was teammate of Fernandez with Sta. Lucia during the defunct Phl Basketball League games in the 90s.

For Adeogun, he's just happy to contribute in defense.

"I just made up my mind to play tough, physical defense and I'm happy I helped the team," he said.

None of it is sweeter for outgoing San Beda captain Rome dela Rosa, who have served his fifth and last tour of duty with the Lions.

"I can't describe the feeling," said Dela Rosa, who was part in all four championships by the Mendiola-based school as well as their second place finish to San Sebastian on his first season five years back.

Right after the triumph, San Beda went back to campus and celebrated mass at the Our Lady of Monserrat chapel and did away with their traditional bonfire and street party in deference to victims of typhoon Yolanda that devastated the Visayas.

"We're holding our bonfire on Nov. 22 and we invite everyone to attend because we will be dedicating the proceeds we will get there in relief efforts for the victims of Yolanda," said Fernandez.

Reigning league MVP Raymond Almazan paced the Knights with 14 points, 11 caroms and four blocks but he was slowed down in the second half when he committed his fourth foul in the third quarter.

Almazan, however, went out with a bang as he scored a jumper from the right baseline that gave Letran a 52-51 lead with less than four minutes to go after trailing most of the second half.

It turned out the Knights' last shot at glory as Dela Cruz and Adeogun took matters into their own hands as they scored all but one of the Lions' last nine points.

Letran mentor Caloy Garcia said breaks just didn't go their way in the crucial stretch of the game.

"Breaks of the game but there was nothing to be ashamed of, the boys gave it their best," said Garcia.

Letran had a couple of chances to knot the count, force overtime and perhaps snatch the win but blew both of it with Racal getting blocked by Adeogun and turning the ball over after intercepting an inbound pass by dela Rosa in the dying seconds.

Dela Cruz and Adeogun teamed up in the third quarter when the two combined for 15 points to transform a six-point halftime deficit to a 45-43 edge going into the last 10 minutes of the game.

Led by dela Cruz, the Lions went on attack mode early, took a 14-7 lead at end of the opening quarter and stretched it to 18-7 early in the second period.

But Cruz unleashed an eight-point barrage in sparking a 23-6 blast after it as the Knights turned the tables on the Lions to go into the break with a 30-24 advantage.

Almazan were on the verge of coming up with a monster statistical lines in the first half with 10 points, seven rebounds, a steal and a block that more than made up for turning the ball five times.

The scores:

San Beda 60 – Dela Cruz 20, Adeogun 17, Amer 6, Dela Rosa 6, Pascual 4, Abarcar 2, A. Semerad 2, Ludovice 2, Sara 1, D. Semerad 0

Letran 56 – Almazan 14, Cruz 10, Nambatac 10, Ruaya 9, Racal 7, Belorio 4, Luib 2, Castro 0, Tambeling 0, Buenaflor 0, Gabawan 0

Quarterscores: 14-7; 24-30; 45-43; 60-56

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