REDemption for the San Beda Red Lions!
After the heartbreaking loss to rivals Letran Knights a season ago, the loss of their entire starting five to graduation, and the season-ending injury to ace big man Donald Tankoua, the San Beda College Red Lions were not to be denied.
The Red Lions swept the Season 92 rivals Arellano University Chiefs in the finals series, capped by a masterful 83-73 victory, to win the NCAA Season 92 Seniors Basketball championship, their 10th seniors crown overall, at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
“Yes, this is redemption. It was a heartbreaking loss last year, went to overtime, best of three,” San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin reflected. “It took me a year to really get back here and along the way, I had all these young men.”
“I’m just happy and God is good all the time.”
With the game hanging in the balance, it was Cameroonian student-athlete Arnaud Noah, coach Jamike Jarin’s much-maligned pick for the last roster spot, who did the damage in the end game.
After a shoot-out kicked off the final frame, Noah proved to be the difference, pushing off the opposing big man and dishing out excellent finds to gunslingers AC Soberano and Davon Potts, the latter giving San Beda a 78-73 edge with 1:48 remaining.
Noah finished the game with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and two crucial assists. Moreover, for his Herculean efforts in the series, he was named as Finals MVP.
“To be honest the reason why I got Noah is because I really wanted him to play that different positions, the 4, the 3, even the 2,” Jarin said. “But he was struggling, then all of a sudden, unfortunately, Donald had that ACL, and he just stepped up.”
On the other end, the Red Lions held Arellano scoreless in the last 2:42 of the game, as their once-red hot shooting to start the last 10 minutes of the season failed them. The lockdown defense San Beda displayed was a testament to the build and vision Jarin wanted.
“Like what we said the entire season, this team was built to be selfless,” Jarin furthered. “Always for me, it’s always been my trademark, you use all your players, you give them the exposure, and after the season, you make a bond that will last forever, memories that will last forever.”
The unselfishness of the Red Lions was fully on display in the game, as they dished out 21 assists in the game. Four other Red Lions scored in double-figures as well: Soberano scored 16, transferee Robert Bolick had 13, while Javee Mocon and Potts both put in 10 points.
This was not the memory the Chiefs wanted. After battling against a lead that went as high as 11 points in the second frame, Arellano were able to gain a 66-63 lead after back-to-back triples by Filipino-Canadian sharpshooter Zach Nicholls and High Chief Jio Jalalon. However, Jalalon, in what could be his last NCAA game, fouled out with 35.3 ticks remaining.
The Cagayan de Oro native finished the game with 19 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds. Allen Enriquez and Nicholls added 14 and 12 points respectively.
The Arellano Chiefs did not win a single game against San Beda this season, going 0-5. They have been deprived of a single NCAA Finals win once more.
SBC(83) – Noah 18, Soberano 16, Bolick 13, Mocon 10, Potts 10, Sara 7, Presbitero 5, Adamos 2, Bonsubre 2, Optana 0, Tongco 0, Carlos 0, Alas 0.
AU (73) – Jalalon 19, Enriquez 14, Nicholls 12, Canete 8, Gumaru 6, Meca 5, Salado 4, Cadavis 4, Flores 1, Holts 0, Villoria 0, Aguilar 0.
Quarterscores: 18-25, 45-40, 63-60, 83-73.