MANILA – San Beda unleashed a three-point juggernaut in the second half as it repulsed Lyceum of the Philippines University, 82-72, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday and marched into the NCAA Season 99 finals against Mapua.
The Lions buried nine triples in the final half including seven in the third quarter that built them enough cushion to weather a furious fourth-quarter surge by the Pirates.
And it's from the other sources that the Benedictine school sourced their scoring with James Payosing and Jomel Puno leading the way with 18 and 15 points, respectively.
Nygel Gonzales was also instrumental as he chipped in 11 points including three booming triples that sparked that decisive third-quarter salvo.
The unlikely heroes emerged from the ashes of Jacob Cortez’ measly seven-point performance, that came after he dropped a career-high 28-point effort in his team’s first Final Four conquest of LPU, 89-68, Tuesday at the MOA Arena.
“Pinasok ko si Nygel Gonzales (I let Nygel Gonzales played), big game,” said San Beda coach Yuri Escueta when asked what keyed the third-quarter breakaway.
“They were zoning us and they were staying home with Jacob. Luckily, they left some guys open and those guys were ready to shoot,” he added.
The win set San Beda up against Mapua, which made quick work of College of St. Benilde (CSB) in their own Final Four showdown, in a best-of-three final unfurling Wednesday at MOA.
Game Two is on Dec. 10 also at MOA while a deciding Game Three, if necessary, is on Dec. 17 back at the Big Dome.
It was a heartbreaking ending for the Pirates, who came into the semis with a twice-to-beat edge after finishing at No. 2 after the elimination round but blew it away after being twice beaten by the fearsome Lions.
LPU though will have a chance to salvage some measure of pride as it guns for third place against CSB on Dec. 10 at MOA.
It’s the first time in league history that the one-game battle for third will be instituted. (PR)