SAN BEDA-LETRAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2007

It’s the eve before the NCAA Finals. Darn that I’m so far away to see it live. I wont even be able to see it on television. After seeing all the games of the Red Lions, from practices, tune-ups, all the way through the eliminations, I’m feeling really bad about it.

Before I left for Utrecht, one of the assurances I keep telling myself was that, it will be no contest.I wont be missing a lot. San Beda will win it, hands down. But basing this conclusion from the past 2 elimination games between these two squads, no team was able to win either game by more than 3 points. Each time these teams square off is an electrically charged affair, always filled with suspense and highlights. The first game was marked by a protest at the end of the game over a Pong Escobal shot, ruled as a long two, and if ruled otherwise, would have sent the game into overtime. The second game ended in a near free for all between the Letran bench and Bedan fans. Maybe because the historical rivalry between Mendiola and Muralla go way back. I’ve read somewhere that the last time these two schools met in the championship of the NCAA was 50 years ago, Letran winning it over San Beda. It was a gruelling battle, even tagged by some as “Murder, Inc.” It is interesting to know why this monicker came about. But from the way Letran and San Beda slug it out, even in the modern times, I have an idea why.

On top of the agenda of San Beda is to clamp down on the prolific shooting of RJ Jazul. This guy has improved leaps and bounds from last season. He was almost a non-factor then, behind the shadows of Aaron Aban and Boyet Bautista. And now he jumps out as the top scorer and clutch hitter for the Knights. I wonder what they feed him for breakfast.

Next is to prepare their guts and bodies for the husky defense that Louie Alas and his boys employ against their opponents. It has become a trademark of Letran to get into the nerves of other teams. And also these boys have the guts of steel, virtually anyone from its bench can step up and deliver for Letran. So, the best plan is to keep a close watch on all of them, they can just go berseck hitting threes, at some point.

As for San Beda, they have the best starting five in the entire league. At least four of them average at least 10 points a game among others. Pro-bound Yousif Aljamal contributes 16 points and 9 rebounds a game. Last year’s rookie MVP Sam Ekwe, continues to dominate the league, despite his disqualification in the MVP race with approximately 14pts, 16.2 rebounds a game. Master playmaker Pong Escobal and dynamic Ogie Menor lags slightly behind with 13.4 points each. Borgie Hermida leads the team with assists with 4.8  assists a game. On an interesting note, Hermida, in their last outing, plucked 13 rebounds, same as that of towering center Sam Ekwe. It is interesting to note that each and every member of the starting five had been adjudged player of the game all through out the eliminations, including rookie sensations Garvo Lanete and Dave Marcelo.

San Beda was transformed from a lean mean offensive machine from being last year’s top defensive team. Many observers miss the defense, half-court set of the Lions under erstwhile mentor Koy Banal, but maintain that the present makeup of the team makes their play more exciting. It remains to be seen what the Lions have in store for Letran for the championship series. The surprises will unfold tomorrow… Maybe Ekwe hitting from beyond the arc?? Hmmm, that would drop everybody out of their seats. But with Frankie Lim and his assistants, Boni Garcia, JB Sison and Ed Cordero at the helm, I tell you nothing is impossible.

 Fearless forecast? San Beda 2-0! (with fingers crossed and prayers sent up) Raise the curtains up… It’s gametime!

 Well, for Bedans far away, you can catch live updates of the games at the shoutbox of www.bedista.com and www.gameface.ph RedLions Den. No choice but at least we get to be in the thick of the action. Try it, it’s nervewracking as well.

 From Utrecht, Go San Beda Fight!

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