Red Lions' big wind-up leaves Green Archers stunned

Never count out a champion who's armed with a lion’s heart.

Saving its best for last, San Beda College wiped out a big 10-point lead to squeeze  out a come-from-behind 66-63 victory over a stunned La Salle side Wednesday night to complete the semifinals cast of the Filoil Flying V Pre-Season Hanes Cup at The Arena in San Juan.

The three-time reigning NCAA men’s cage titlists, the Red Lions uncorked a blinding 13-to-nothing windup as they mightily clawed back from a 53-63 hole in the last 3:53 of play to earn a third straight and sixth overall Final Four stint since the league’s inception in 2006.

Arthur dela Cruz scattered 10 of his team-high 14 points in the first half and sparked San Beda’s decisive closeout before sensational guard Baser Amer got the job done by tallying the team’s last six points, highlighted by a tough turn-around jumper.

The thrilling victory was also a revenge of sorts for the Red Lions after the Mendiola-based dribblers were beaten by the Green Archers in the semifinals of this preseason tournament last year.

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Now the lone NCAA team left in the field, San Beda takes on defending champion National University while University of Santo Tomas battles University of the East in a pair of semis matchups this Friday also at The Arena.

Going down the drain for La Salle was Almond Vostros’ 16 points along with Jeron Teng’s 15 and Norbert Torres’ 10, with the three combining for 22 of the team’s 30-point explosion in the second canto.
 
The Main Man: “The Hammer” surely knows when to stamp his class.

Struggling to find any kind of offensive groove in the first 36 minutes, Amer took charge just when San Beda needed him the most, pumping in all of his eight points during the telling finishing kick.

After scoring a tough turn-around jumper that pulled them within 62-63, Amer showed poise in the charity stripe, nailing four consecutive free throws, while the younger Green Archers crumbled under duress.
 
Honorable Mention: Call Art Dela Cruz “Mr. Efficiency.”

Visibly thriving in coach Boyet Fernandez’s system, Dela Cruz emerged as a steady force for the Red Lions in the lane, tallying 14 points and hauling down 11 rebounds while holding his ground against his taller La Salle counterparts.

The 6-foot-3 Dela Cruz is a lefty but he’s clearly doing the right things that leaves Fernandez beaming no end.
 
Game Turning Point:
After a dreadful showing in the first half, the Green Archers showed up with fire in their eyes in the third canto, banking on Torres, Teng and Vostros in exploding for 30 points to take a seven-point lead into the fourth.

La Salle looked headed for a big win as it posted a 63-53 cushion off a Teng bucket but San Beda charged back with a 14-to-nothing windup to complete the stunning win.
 

San Beda (66) – Dela Cruz 14, Dela Rosa 12, Koga 11, Amer 8, Adeogun 7, Pascual 4, D. Semerad 4, Abarcar 2, A. Semerad 2, Sara 2, Villaruz 0.

DLSU (63) – Vosotros 16, Teng 15, N. Torres 10, Van Opstal 10, Perkins 6, Revilla 3, T. Torres 2, G. Reyes 1, Bolick 0, Montalbo 0, M. Reyes 0, Dela Paz 0.
Quarterscores: 17-14, 33-26, 46-53, 66-63