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San Beda escapes Letran to force deciding Game 3 in NCAA Finals

by Niel Victor Masoy, November 15, 2019 7:06pm

In an absolute thriller, San Beda University (SBU) escaped Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL), 79-76, on Friday to force a deciding Game Three in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) season 95 Men's basketball tournament Finals.

The knockout match between the two age-old rivals is set on Tuesday, November 19 still at the Mall of Asia Arena.

With the Knights leading by two points, 76-74, following a Larry Muyang fade away jumper with 46.4 seconds left, Calvin Oftana came through for the Red Lions.

After botched possessions from both teams, Oftana tied the count at 76-apiece by scoring on a floater plus a foul at the 19.1-second mark. The Most Valuable Player (MVP) of this season then drained the bonus free throw to give back the lead to San Beda, 77-76.

On the other end, Bonbon Batiller's reverse layup hit nothing but the glass and Letran was called for a shot-clock violation with still 5.1 seconds remaining.

After which, James Kwekuteye drilled a pair of free throws to stretch San Beda's buffer to three points, 79-76, at the 4.5-second mark.

Defense then did the trick for the Bedans in the remaining time as Letran wasn't even to put up a shot, turning the ball over.

"A win is a win. We'll take this one. I'm just relieved we're over this, we got this win," said Red Lions head coach Boyet Fernandez post-game.

James Kwekuteye paced San Beda with 21 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, while Calvin Oftana bounced back from a subpar Game One performance and finished with a double-double of 17 markers and 11 boards on top of two assists.

Clint Doliguez also had a bounce-back game, turning in 17 points and six rebounds, while Kenmark Carino proved to be a spark off the bench for the Red Lions with seven points, five caroms, and a block.

Determined to extend the series to a knockout game, San Beda unleashed a rousing 15-0 start capped by a James Kwekuteye layup at the 6:07 mark of the first quarter. The Red Lions would settle for an 11-point, 18-7 cushion at the end of the opening canto. 

Letran came to its senses in the second quarter and got within three points, 17-20, following a pair of made free throws from King Caralipio. However, the Red Lions responded with an 8-0 spurt capped by Clint Doliguez's back-to-back treys with 5:02 left in the second period. 

Riding such a wave of momentum, San Beda seized a 12-point, 37-25 cushion at the half.

The first 13 minutes and 41 seconds of the second half turned out to be 'The Fran Yu Show'. The second year Letran guard scored 19 of his 23 points in the said stretch and was the major driving force in Letran's fightback in the fourth quarter where the Knights obtained a seven-point, 66-59 lead at the 7:44 mark.

However, Yu's scintillating showing ended at the 3:41 mark as he succumbed to cramps, got carried off the court, and he never returned in the nail-biting contest.

Making matters worse for Letran was that San Beda already came back and was leading by six points, 72-66. The Knights, though, had their second wind and unleashed a 10-0 run capped by a Muyang fade away jumper for a 76-74 Letran lead with 55.4 ticks left.

The Red Lions then turned the ball over on the other end, but so did the Knights as they lost the leather as Oftana stole the ball.

Oftana then charged to the other end, hit a floater, got fouled, and hit the bonus free throw to swing back the lead to San Beda, 77-76, for good.

Yu added five assists and two rebounds, while Muyang added 17 markers and 10 caroms. Bonbon Batiller chipped in 11 points and four boards.


The scores: 

San Beda 79 - Kwekuteye 21, Oftana 17, Doliguez 17, Carino 7, Nelle 5, Soberano 5, Cuntapay 3, Tankoua 2, Abuda 2, Bahio 0, Noah 0.

Letran 76 - Yu 23, Muyang 17, Batiller 11, Ambohot 9, Balanza 9, Caralipio 7, Olivario 0, Ular 0, Mina 0, Reyson 0, Balagasay 0, Sangalang 0.

Quarters: 18-7, 37-25, 53-56, 79-76.

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