MANILA, PHilippines—Three days’ worth of “over-practicing” paid off handsomely for the San Beda Red Lions on Tuesday, as they clobbered Lyceum of the Philippines University in their first-round meeting of the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball tournament.
San Beda outscored Lyceum 27-15 in the fourth quarter to break the game open for good, leading by as many as 22 points before a late flurry by Enzo Navarro forced the Red Lions to settle for an 88-73 victory.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa players ko for all the sacrifices they had endured in the last few days to prepare for LPU. Sometimes nga nag-o-over na kami. Or hindi nga, hindi sometimes,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez.
“For the last three days, we’ve been over-practicing for about an hour because we really want to prepare really well for LPU.”
That preparation was clear in the first quarter, as they got the jump on the Pirates and even led by as many as 18 points. But Lyceum recovered and was down by just 8 points at the half, 44-36.
Seeing the Red Lions squander a huge advantage upset Fernandez, said San Beda point guard Evan Nelle.
“Noong halftime he got so mad at us kasi we got complacent. Ang ganda na ng start namin tapos pagdating ng second quarter, medyo nag-relax kami,” said the sophomore guard, who had 14 points and 7 assists in the win.
“So coach really got mad at us, tapos he told us our adjustments, he told us na we are prepared for this game. So ginawa lang namin ‘yung game plan, we adjusted lang nang kaunti. It turned out pretty well.”
Lyceum briefly took the lead in the third period, but the Red Lions responded well then completely took charge in the fourth frame. They snuffed out the Pirates’ offense in the final quarter, forcing them into turnovers that they quickly translated into points.
Afterward, twins Jaycee and Jayvee Marcelino could only give props to Fernandez’s game plan.
“Ang galing ni coach Boyet,” admitted Jaycee, who had 13 points in a losing effort. “Check niya lahat talaga. Lahat ng play ata namin, may pangontra siya eh. Kaya bandang huli, bumigay kami.”
Fernandez stressed that all credit went to his players, saying: “Kung hindi sila nagsakripisyo, hindi namin magagawa ang dapat naming gawin in this game.”
San Beda has now won 21 straight games dating back to Season 94, with its last loss coming against LPU in August 2018. There is plenty of work left for the Red Lions to do, however, as they are set to College of Saint Benilde in another high-profile match-up Friday.
The Blazers have a 5-1 win-loss record, with their lone defeat coming against the Pirates.
“No rest for us,” said Fernandez. “We’ll be ready for the next game. We’ll enjoy this tonight, the feeling of winning the game against LPU. It’s a well-deserved rest and enjoyment for our players. And, we’re looking forward again tomorrow.”
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