Despite playing with just six players, the San Beda Red Lions opened their title retention bid with an impressive 81-71 victory over the Arellano Chiefs in NCAA Season 88 action Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
San Beda coach Ronnie Magsanoc dubbed Francis Abarcar, Ritchie Villaruz, Jun Bonsubre, Yvan Ludovice, Art Dela Cruz and Dave Moralde his “Super Six” after the rest of the Red Lions were suspended for their involvment in a brawl at an NCAA volleyball game last year. Baser Amer, Anjo Caram, Rome Dela Rosa, Ryusei Koga, Melo Lim, Jaypee Mendoza, Jake Pascual, Kyle Pascual and Michole Sorela were each meted a one-game suspension, while Nigerian center Ola Adeogun was banned for four games.
“It’s all heart. It was exhausting for them but extremely rewarding. Trinabaho ng mga bata every possession,” said Magsanoc.
Arellano led by as much as 12 points, 24-12 in the first period behind the explosive efforts of rookie Larry Malanday and Rocky Acidre, who combined for 17 of the Chiefs’ output in the first ten minutes.
But the Red Lions came roaring back, as Dave Moralde’s undergoal stab tied the knot at 33-all, before Arellano took a two-point halftime lead.
A 16-2 run by San Beda to start off the second half turned things around, with Art Dela Cruz and Ritchie Villaruz anchoring that attack. The Red Lions took over the lead, 58-46 and never looked back.
“Laban lang sabi nung anim, yun ang sinabi nila. They lived up to their promise,” said Magsanoc, who took over at the helm of the Red Lions for Frankie Lim, who was suspended for two years for his role in the same melee.
Dela Cruz, a transferee from Ateneo and the son of former PBA player Art, and Ludovice scored 18 points apiece for the Red Lions, while Villacruz and Abarcar had 17 and 16. Moralde chipped in 12.
“Abarcar was a late addition to the team,” said Magsanoc. “He was not even suppose to be playing this year. His name was submitted two days before the deadline of the eligibility.”
Ludovice, a product of San Beda high school, played all 40 minutes. “Ready lang ako sa mangyayari coming into this game. Di ako nagpupuyat, drank lots of water. And nakatulong yung words of encouragement ng teammates namin na suspended for today’s game. Just goes to show na may tiwala sila sa amin,” he said.
Red Lions team captain Jake Pascual expressed his pride for his teammates’ effort. “Simple lang, we just believe in them, and Coach Ronnie did a great job for us. Puso ang pinanlaban, heart of a true Bedan Lion.”
San Beda (81) — Ludovice 18, Dela Cruz 18, Villaruz 17, Abarcar 16, Moralde 12, Bonsubre 0.
Arellano (71) — Acidre 16, Pinto 16, Hernandez 15, Malanday 14, Salcedo 4, Bangga 4 Zulueta 2, Cadavis 0, Lunas 0, Valera 0, Espiras 0.
Quarters: 21-28, 42-44, 63-54, 81-71
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