Band of six Bedans pulls through

Lions beat Arellano with just one sub

Six Red Lions were all new San Beda coach Ronnie Magsanoc needed to obtain his first win in the 88th Season of the NCAA earlier today at the Fil-Oil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.  Saddled with suspensions on eight players, the defending champions relied on just five rookies and a sophomore to post a shocking 81-71 victory over Arellano University. 

Magsanoc called Yvan Ludovice, Arthur Dela Cruz, Jon Villaruz, Francis Abarcar, Antonio Bonsubre, and second-year player Dave Moralde his “Super Six.”  Serving one-game suspensions for their involvement in a melee during an NCAA volleyball game held in San Beda last year were mainstays Jake Pascual, Rome Dela Rosa, Baser Amer, Anjo Caram, Melo Lim, Ryusei Koga and Kyle Pascual, while 6’8” Nigerian rookie Olaide Adeogun was slapped a four-game ban.

“It’s all about the heart of the boys,” said first-year coach Magsanoc, who replaced Frankie Lim just a few months ago after the latter was banned for two years for the same incident that caused the suspension of the eight players.  Team patron Manny V. Pangilinan likened the upset victory to the 300 Spartans that stood their ground against tens of thousands of charging Persians in the movie “300.”

The Chiefs seemed headed for an easy triumph as they buried six treys in the first quarter, to post a couple of 12-point leads, and enter the second period on top, 28-21.  But the gritty Lions started the second canto like a house on fire with a 10-5 salvo, to tie the count for the first and last time at 33-all, with still 5:46 remaining in the half.  Arellano however countered with a three-point shot each from Rocky Acidre, Levi Hernandez and Larry Malanday to take the half, 44-42.  The Chiefs shot 10 of 16 from beyond the arc in the first half.

But the second half was an entirely different story with regard to the Chiefs’ offense as they missed all their eleven three-point attempts.  In contrast, the Lions used almost to perfection a deliberate half-court game and a tough defensive stand that ignited a 16-2 run to give them their largest advantage in the game at 58-46, with 2:05 left in the third. 

A fierce battle ensued in the fourth canto with the Chiefs staging mini-rallies.  But as if joining the celebrations of the festive San Juan Day, the Lions repeatedly doused cold water on Arellano’s attempted comebacks.

The Chiefs came to within five points four times in the final quarter, the last at 68-73 with still 2:22 remaining in the game.  But Abarcar, Ludovice and Villaruz each converted crucial jumpers in the homestretch to preserve the win for San Beda.

All Lions except for Bonsubre scored in double digits.  Ludovice and Dela Cruz, both former Red Cubs who played one season for National University and Ateneo respectively in the UAAP before returning to Mendiola, led the Lions with 18 markers each.  Villaruz, a recruit from La Salle Greenhills, added 17 points, including four treys, while last year’s NCAA Juniors Finals MVP Abarcar chipped in sixteen. Moralde, who was also in the 2010 roster, had twelve points. The Lions also outrebounded the Chiefs, 46-38.

Moralde, and Ludovice, who played for 40 minutes, started having cramps in the middle of the fourth quarter but chose to carry on, smelling an upset in the making. 

A sizeable San Beda crowd came to cheer the embattled team on and was delighted in the valiant effort of the “Super Six.”  With less than two minutes to go, and with SBC ahead, 75-68, the Bedan die-hards began to chant “Puso!” as if to egg the Lions to hold on to the sweet victory.

The Lions are off to another good start this season in their quest for a three-peat and a 17th overall basketball title in the NCAA Senior division.  San Beda is currently tied with Letran for most championships at 16 each.

This bizarre win spoiled the debut of Koy Banal as new mentor of Arellano.  Banal was at the helm of the Red Lions when they won the 2006 crown.  The following year, Lim took over and led San Beda to four more titles in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011.

The scores:
San Beda (81) — Ludovice 18, Dela Cruz 18, Villaruz 17, Abarcar 16, Moralde 12, Bonsubre 0.
Arellano (71) — Acidre 16, Pinto 16, Hernandez 15, Malanday 14, Salcedo 4, Bangga 4 Zulueta 2, Cadavis 0, Lunas 0, Valera 0, Espiras 0.
Quarters: 21-28, 42-44, 63-54, 81-71

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