Teammates James Canlas, Calvin Oftana and JB Bahio scored well when the defending champion San Beda Red Lions brought down the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, 74-52, yesterday at Filoil Flying V Centre.
And they have point guard Evan Nelle to thank for all the assists and the scoring chances that he gave his teammates to help the Red Lions earn back-to-back wins in the 95th National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Tournament.
With Nelle creating openings, Canlas struck hard in the first period, hitting 10 of 17 points as the Red Lions unraveled a 15-0 attack in the first seven minutes.
Meanwhile, the Letran Knights bounced back from their loss to the Lyceum Pirates with an 81-72 beating of the Arellano Chiefs.
Jerrick Balanza tallied 31 points for the Knights, who improved to 1-1 in their win-loss record.
The Red Lions never looked back after they established a 21-10 edge, and got eight points from Oftana as they moved away, 45-31, at halftime.
When the smoke cleared, Oftana also tallied 17 points while Bahio added 11.
Canlas, a Fil-Canadian, gave the Red Lions a 24-point spread, 55-31, with 6:49 left in the third off Bahio’s pass.
Nelle only had five points, but he made heads turn with almost record-breaking 14 assists.
Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez said he was glad they scored their second straight win. But he feels that the squad still needs to work on their executions, which needs to be consistent all throughout.
“Nelle had 11 assists in the first half. But he did not have more than three in the second half. Now, we have to work on our execution,” said Fernandez.
Nelle’s efforts almost topped Jiovani Jalalon’s record for assists in a game, which is 16.
In the junior division, transferee Rhayyan Amsali made his presence felt for the San Beda Red Cubs in their 99-80 smashing of the Jose Rizal University Light Bombers.
The Gilas Youth cager, who missed action last season after transferring from National University, banged in 10 points in the first 10 minutes to carry the Red Cubs to a 26-18 edge.
Teammates Justine Sanchez and Hans Nicdao had 13 and 10 points for the Braves, who improved to 1-1.
The Arellano Braves drew 14 points each from Miguel Sahali, Rodman Templonuevo, and Chris Recto.