An 18-0 elimination round and only one loss all season long. That was how San Beda Red Cubs won the 87th NCAA juniors basketball title.
So for a person who is not intently following the NCAA juniors basketball, it will be quite a surprise to hear San Beda coach Britt Reroma telling sportswriters in the postgame interview that his team wasn’t even the favorite to win the crown this year.
“Walang nag-expect na mag-chachampion kami,” Reroma said.
“Honestly, ang tingin ko talaga, La Salle Greenhills ang malakas dahil nine ang holdovers nila, kami anim lang,” Reroma insisted.
Nine players graduated from the team last season, which included San Beda Red Lion Baser Amer. Despite that, it was a season to remember for the Red Cubs as they claimed their 19th title overall in juniors basketball surpassing the Mapua Red Robins.
“Kaya eto na ‘yung pinakamasarap na championship namin dahil na-sweep namin, and at the same time, nakuha namin ‘yung 19th title,” said Reroma.
Despite a team with young players, some of whom came from Team B, Reroma said that the preseason allowed the team to believe in themselves and that they can claim a third straight championship.
“Nag-champion kami sa Palarong Pambansa, pagkatapos nag-champion kami sa ASEAN tournament sa Singapore. Doon kami nagkaroon ng confidence na kaya naming mag-three-peat,” said Reroma.
For sweeping the elimination round, the Red Cubs were given an incentive—a thrice-to-beat edge in the championship — but the result turned out to be the first hurdle the team had to face.
After a long break, the Red Cubs suffered their first loss of the season, bowing to La Salle Greenhills in the first match of the four-game championship affair.
Game 2 was not easy either. The Red Cubs endured a tough stand by the Greenies before Daryl Nazareno split his free throws late in the game for a 74-73 win.
“Nagkaroon kami ng 12-day lay-off. Naging rusty talaga kami going into the championship. Pero nung nanalo kami noong Game 2, ‘yun na ang naging turning point. Hindi naging maganda ang laro namin pero nanalo kami,” said Reroma.
Vying for another championship next season — the team’s fourth straight — will not be easy for the Red Cubs. Twelve players will be graduating including finals Most Valuable Player Francis Abarcar.
“My only holdovers are Arvin Tolentino, Ranbill Tongco and Paolo Macapayag. We know it will be a rebuilding year next year but we will give our best to get the four-peat. Malakas talaga next year ang LSGH dahil 11 ang matitira. Hopefuly makakuha kami ng recruits,” said Reroma.
Here we go again.
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