While watching the second round San Beda-San Sebastian game yesterday at the San Juan Arena, I came away – once again, I might add – with my thoughts on why the Red Lions were not going to be beaten.
In the first round match up that San Beda won 88-76, head coach Frankie Lim was trying out different combinations to counter San Sebastian which led early in the game. Obviously, the Stags were overwhelmed by the size of the Red Lions in almost every position. Once the interior defense of San Beda was stabilized and the Stags’ MVP candidate Calvin Abueva began to flop all over the court, there went the ballgame for the champs.
Some mention was made on the shutting down of Stags point guard Pamboy Raymundo by his San Beda counterparts. I’m not sure I agree with that too much. I just thought that he deferred to his teammates a little too much. Aside from SBC’s Borgie Hermida, there aren’t many point guards in the NCAA who can break their man down with a quick first step and adjust in the air for their shots. During SSCR’s loss to Arellano University’s last week, in the botched final play of the Stags, Raymundo was able to drive through the lane and it was just a sorry play that he decided to dish to Ian Sangalang (which was also an option in the play) who lost the ball and the game eventually.
In the second round
mugging match-up between SBC and SSCR, it was Raymundo who kept the Stags in the game with his 15 first half points. Abueva really didn’t lead his team much in the same span of time save for blocks, taunts, cheap shots, and fouls. With Ian Sangalang and Rey Gorospe hardly effective inside, that was San Beda’s game. Abueva did take out San Beda’s Fil-Ams Rome dela Rosa and Kyle Pascual out of their games with his physicality but the Stags' inability to cover Jake Pascual from medium range, Garvo Lanete from the outside, and Sudan Daniel from the inside totally killed them.
With Anthony Semerad a non-factor and his brother David DND-CD’d, Jake Pascual was the only one willing to call a spade a spade and give as good as he got. I also thought that the points that he scored right before he was thrown out were crucial as it kept San Beda ahead. But seriously, how can Pascual get thrown out and Abueva stay in the game? Obviously, the league is protecting Abueva who is being eyed to bag the MVP trophy (more so after Jimbo Aquino lost that after a suspension last year).
Anjo Caram was a surprise package when he came off the bench to score six points and pull off a heist after a miscommunication between Raymundo and Anthony del Rio up high.
San Sebastian initially dealt with the first wave of Bedan bigs but as they kept coming in waves, they were overwhelmed. Don’t be deceived by San Sebastian beating San Beda 37-36 on the boards. The story right there was in the field goal percentage of the Mendiola-based squad. They shot an incredible 52% as they took the game inside. No interior D. No shotblocking. You're asking for trouble against SBC.
The result was an expected 90-82 victory for a 16-0 slate in the eliminations and an automatic berth in the finals where whoever makes it via the stepladder format must beat them thrice. It’s a ridiculous idea because after that sweep they (NCAA) should have thrown the Final Four and Finals series out and handed the trophy right there to San Beda. But since some people want to mooch money off the fans and the public, a spectacle is necessary.
I said that the first time the two teams played this season, for the Stags to win, they must play basketball not basketbrawl. They somewhat played that, but minus Ronald Pascual, they didn’t have enough firepower. Abueva took himself out of the game in the first half with 1 point, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks. He did come alive in the fourth quarter with 11 points and 7 rebounds but he missed some shots and free throws that hurt his team. Raymundo scored a career high 29 points on top of 5 rebounds and 8 assists.
What I was ashamed of after the game was seeing how no one – save Anthony del Rio – who shook hands with their Bedan counterparts. And during the closing moments of the game, I thought that guys like Jaypee Mendoza and Rome dela Rosa were getting mugged in there by Abueva. At one point, I feared that dela Rosa would get bloodied after Abueva tried to deflect a pass while throwing down an elbow to his head.
I am a fan of Abueva’s high-energy play and willingness to mix it up with anyone inside. If this guy were as tall as Sudan Daniel then no way will his team lose. But the bad side is his dirty play. I vow next time to keep stats on cheap shots, bad calls, and dirty plays. Those were really criminal shots that he took on Daniel and dela Rosa. Before the game began, I took Sudan aside and told him that if there’s an altercation, he should just walk away. There’s too much to lose for him if he decided to duke things out. But credit Su who has been constantly reminded about that by his coaches and teammates.
Congratulations to the San Beda Red Lions for their Sweep 16. Their next game is just a formality.
Hey, did anyone see those Americans behind the San Sebastian bench? Looks like they’ve decided to play the import game. Of course, I could be wrong here.