Red Lions tane knights in Filoil

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National University’s Matt Aquino (13) blocks the shot of Irvin Mendoza of Emilio Aguinaldo College. STEPHANIE TUMAMPOS

SAN BEDA COLLEGE (SBC) got two huge scoring spurts, first from William Navarro and then from Javee Mocon to blow a close game wide open for a 84-70 win against nemesis Letran on Sunday in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup at the San Juan Arena.

Navarro, the Filipino-Greek recruit of the Red Lions nailed back-to-back triples and hit an undergoal stab for a 38-34 lead going into the half. Mocon, the incoming junior of the Red Lions presided over a 10-point scoring spree to open the third period, and a 48-40 lead, one that Knights never recovered from.

San Beda downplayed the revenge angle against Letran that upset their six-peat National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) ambitions last season, but it was evident they wanted to send a message to their rivals.

“You can call it what it is,” said Head Coach Jamike Jarin, whose team climbed to 4-1, while Letran fell to 2-4. “We’re just trying to get better.”

San Beda shot 49 percent from the field and dominated Letran in almost every department. The Red Lions won the battle of the boards, 46-36, had more assists, 21-16, as well as second chance (10-6) and turnover (11-6) points.

Mocon led San Beda with 19 points. Second-year center Donald Tankoua added 17, while Navarro finished with 15 markers on four-of-five shooting.

Far Eastern University (FEU) went to a familiar weapon to notch a 64-55 win over the College of Saint Benilde (CSB) in the Filoil Flying V Premier Cup—defense.

The Blazers’ confidence was soaring, following a sensational putback dunk by Yankee Haruna to start the fourth period. That ignited an 8-0 run that was followed by back-to-back triples by JJ Domingo and Fons Saavedra for a 46-43 lead with 6:49 to play. 

FEU countered by hounding CSB’s guards and center Prince Orizu shutting down the lane. Jojo Trinidad forced Domingo to two consecutive errors, while the 6-foot-10 Orizu swatted away three shots to regain control of the match. The Blazers, however, remained within striking distance after Saavedra stuck in an undergoal shot to make it 54-50 with 2:32 to play.

The Tamaraws then gave CSB a taste of its own three-point shooting prowess when Rey Bienes and Wendell Comboy hit consecutive triples to break the Blazers’ backs. 

I told the team that it all starts with defense,” said FEU First Assistant Coach Eric Gonzales, who stepped in for head tactician Nash Racela who is still in Bangkok with the national team after their Southeast Asia Basketball Association Stankovic Cup victory. “After we lost a lot of players, we need to find our identity. We can start off by playing defense. Our desire to play defense down the stretch will matter.”

The Tams held the Blazers to 33-percent shooting from the field on top of dominating the rebounding and steals category, 49-44 and 6-1, respectively. 

Orizu finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Richard Escoto also scored 12 points of his own. 

Former FEU Baby Tamaraw Christian Fajarito, who is now with Benilde, continued his vastly improved game by pacing CSB with 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

FEU moved to 3-3, while CSB tumbled to its fifth loss in six outings.

In other seniors matches, National University squeaked past stubborn Emilio Aguinaldo College, 72-68, in the first match.