Lions survive Stags rally

San Beda University survived a furious San Sebastian College rally to eke out a 78-71 victory in the Season 98 National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament Wednesday, 21 September at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

JB Bahio canned a pair of free throws in the final 52.1 seconds to cap a sizzling 11-6 rally that sealed the victory for the Red Lions, who rediscovered their winning form to claim their second victory in four matches.

James Kwekuteye sparked an early 25-2 assault and fired 20 points, three rebounds, and an assist while Peter Alfaro chipped in 11 markers for the Lions, who drew a double-double performance of 10 points and 10 rebounds from Bahio.

Although the Stags stormed back behind Jessie Sumoda, Ken Villapando and rookie Rhinwill Yambing to cut the deficit to 57-59 entering the payoff period, they still couldn’t get the job done as Bahio displayed his nerves of steel down the stretch.

San Beda head coach Yuri Escueta said they just focused on each possession and adjusted to the tough defense that San Sebastian executed.

“I told them to just compete every possession so we focused on one possession at a time, one defensive stop at a time. They listened so it’s a good job,” Escueta, whose wards recovered from a shocking 81-89 loss to Lyceum of the Philippines University, said.

“We have to be ready for the physicality of the game. I told my players to protect themselves. With how each team has a fair chance to get into the Final Four, every win is crucial.”

In particular, the rookie mentor gave credit to Kwekuteye for his hustle and leadership.

“I didn’t watch him last season. I know he can score but one thing I appreciate right now is his defensive side,” Escueta added.”

He is working his effort defensively in getting rebounds. Offensively, he is trying to look where the open teammates are. He is trying to read what the defense is giving plus making good decisions on offense.”

Sumoda finished with 19 points and six rebounds, Villapando had 13 points, seven rebounds, four steals and two assists while Yambing also scored 13 points to go with five boards and two steals for the Stags.

After a solid game in San Sebastian’s one-point win over Mapua, Rommel Calahat was held to just three points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field while main man Ichie Altamirano was also quiet with a forgettable three points.

The Scores:

SAN BEDA (78) — Kwekuteye 20, Alfaro 11, Bahio 10, Ynot 10, Cortez 6, Tagala 6, Cometa 4, Jopia 4, Andrada 4, Cuntapay 3, Visser 0.

SAN SEBASTIAN (71) — Sumoda 19, Villapando 13, Yambing 13, Desoyo 4, Felebrico 4, Escobido 4, Calahat 3, Shanoda 3, Altamirano 3, Are 3, Una 1, Suico 1, Cosari 0, Concha 0.

QUARTERS: 30-11, 46-36, 59-57, 78-71.

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