Lions seek to extend dynasty with a drive for five
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - November 18, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - After its successful roar for four, San Beda is itching to start its drive for five.

With only skipper Rome dela Rosa out for next year’s campaign due to graduation, it looks like the Red Lions will be more than ready to extend their reign in the NCAA for another year.

And it looks like they will.

Ola Adeogun, Baser Amer, Anthony and David Semerad, Kyle Pascual, Roldan Sara, Jaypee Mendoza and John Ludovice will be back to keep the school’s championship tradition.

Put in Arthur dela Cruz again in the mix, the Red Lions will indeed be the team to beat next season.

“Our team captain is the only one leaving us after this season, the rest will be around and hopefully win it again next year,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez, moments after steering the Red Lions to their first four-peat, seventh in the last eight seasons and 18th championship overall with a 60-56 triumph in Game Three over the Letran Knights Saturday at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

While Adeogun supplied the power and inside presence and Amer provided the playmaking chores all-campaign long, it was dela Cruz who came through in a thriller of a decider to keep the coveted crown – San Beda’s 18th – on the Mendiola campus and frustrate Letran’s bid to tie SBC with most titles won.

More than two decades after leaving Bacolod for Manila to play ball for the defunct Philippine Basketball League, Fernandez drew a lot of help from another dela Cruz to annex his first NCAA championship.

“I didn’t know that another dela Cruz will come into my life after more than 20 years and affect it,” said Fernandez, referring to his prized cager, whose father Art took care of him when he tried his luck in the Big City in the 90s.

“I remember in the 90s when I first went to Manila to play for Sta. Lucia in the PBL, Art dela Cruz took care of me,” recalled Fernandez, who turned out to be one of the top amateurs during his prime before eventually making it to the PBA along with the elder dela Cruz, whom he had memorable and successful years.

Like his father, Arthur dela Cruz was a major game-changer for Fernandez as he came through with a clutch performance of his life in a back-and-forth sudden death to help extend San Beda’s reign and give Fernandez his first crown as a collegiate coach.

Dela Cruz, who played high school ball for the San Beda Cubs, spent a few years with the Ateneo Eagles in the UAAP before deciding to transfer back to San Beda, capped his remarkable stint with an MVP Finals trophy.

Fernandez also put his NCAA triumph at the same level of his victories in the PBA D-League as mentor of the NLEX Warriors and the Sta. Lucia Realtors in the pros.

“I have this same feeling when I won titles with NLEX and Sta. Lucia, it’s something special,” he said.

“But I must admit that I’m not a good coach. My secret is preparation and I have great assistant coaches surrounding me, I have to give credit to these people because I would not have reached this far without them,” said Fernandez.

With the win, Fernandez is expected to get an extension as coach of the Red Lions for a chance of extending the school’s dynastic reign and a rare crack at five-peat.

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