THE San Beda Red Lions are back as champions.
They had their shot at redemption and took it as they regained the crown they lost to the Letran Knights last year.
San Beda reasserted its claim at being the winningest collegiate squad in league history after the Red Lions turned back the Arellano University Chiefs, 83-73, in Game 2 of the 92nd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball finals yesterday.
White confetti cascaded from the ceiling of the Mall of Asia Arena, fans began celebrating and members of the Red Lions began linking arms as they screamed their lungs out after American cager Davon Potts finalized the count with his two charities in the last 3.5 seconds.
Cameroonian cager Arnaud Noah, who was hailed as the Finals MVP, fired a game-high 18 points and had seven rebounds and 10 assists for the Red Lions, who went on to finish with a two-game sweep of their best-of-three finals series.
In Game 1, Noah tallied 14 points and seven rebounds when the Red Lions prevailed over the Chiefs, 88-85.
“For me, it’s always been my trademark to use all my players and give them exposure,” said Red Lions coach Jamike Jarin as the Red Lions snared their 20th crown after first winning it in 1936. Noah stepped up for the Red Lions after Donald Tankoua was sidelined with an injury.
Prolific scorer Jio Jalalon tallied 19 points for the Chiefs, including eight points in the final period before he fouled out in the last 35.3 seconds.
After nine lead changes, the Red Lions finally kept the lead in the last 2:20.
They capitalized on a 24-second violation after Chiefs cager Dioncee Holts made a late attempt.
After that, the 6’3” Noah first struck with a three-point play past Allen Enriquez and off Holts’ foul.
Then Noah assisted Robert Bolick for a triple which gave them a five-point spread, 78-73, in the remaning 1:45.
Successive misses from Holts and Kent Salado kept the Chiefs from moving any closer. Red Lions cager Javee Mocon’s two charities with 49.5 ticks allowed the Red Lions to move ahead by seven, 80-73.
Jarin added that their title win this season is considered redemption, after the Knights denied them a six-peat in his first year with the Red Lions.
“Yes, it’s a heartbreaking loss last year. I would be joking, I would be lying if I denied it.We went into overtime, and we took a year to get back here. Along the way, I had these young men,” said Jarin.
Triples from Jalalon at the start of the third erased San Beda’s 63-60 lead, and the Chiefs went on to grab the upperhand, 66-63.
Jalalon who shot three of 10 Arellano three-pointers, scored another trey with 5:09 as Arellano remained ahead, 71-69.
Game 1 was much closer. Bolick came up with the moves that mattered most, and pushed the San Beda Red Lions to 88-85 victory over Arellano. The 21-year-old Bolick, a transferee from De Salle University, took charge with three big plays in the last two minutes that sent the Red Lions to the win in Game.
Game 3, junior finals
at the Arena in San Juan
2 p.m. San Beda vs Mapua