The Red Lions escaped the kiss of death Monday afternoon by turning back the San Sebastian Golden Stags 84-83 in overtime.

San Beda relied on the late game heroics of skipper Pong Escobal, as he scored on an undergoal stab to deliver the game winning basket for the Mendiola-based squad. The defending champions had to surmount an 11 point lead entering the fourth quarter. They had to employ a sticky defense to thwart the 3 point bombs thrown by the Stags, led by PBL veteran Jim Bruce Viray. It was a cardiac game, staring into streaming space of, as it covers the game live via text feeds from the venue. This leads me now to the rant of the day…

Are Bedan fans getting spoiled?

Reading through the shoutbox is my only window to follow a blow by blow account of each Red Lion game because I am outside the country. And having to stand all these condescending comments is pure agony. When a shot is missed, rant… A freethrow not converted, rant… A turnover committed, rant… Player 1 commits an error, rant.. Player 2 doesn’t go for the rebound, shoots from outside, rant… Player 3 shoots a three, misses, ill-advised.  Shut up already!

Yes, the Bedan fan base is the basketball craziest in all of college basketball. However, an irritating Bedan trait has been evident to me for years. When the Red Lions were cellar dwellers and whipping boys of the NCAA, they complain no end… Year after year, talunan.. Now that we’re reigning supreme, it’s a whole new pitch. When the Red Lions beat opponents by 20, boring… When they escape and win by one, paltan ang coach… We, indeed, have gotten spoiled with this rampaging run by our Red Lions.

A win is a win is a win…

San Beda is the strongest collegiate line-up in the country today. But the components of this line-up are people, nai-injure, nagkakasakit… Escobal was hospitalized last week and is still recuperating. Bam Gamalinda, after his stellar performance against the Dolphins last week, was also rushed to the hospital due to diarrhea and dehydration. Jake Pascual was unable to play because of the flu. At least three more key players had to be given dextrose in the weekend due to dehydration. I think several other players are nursing injuries. Despite their condition, these guys still show up at practice and play their games. In the meanwhile, we sit back and watch, then complain to our heart’s content. The biggest enemy of a team on top is overconfidence. It seems that this overconfidence has slowly creeped into the psyche of the Red Army.

 Some attribute the victory on the capability and experience of our players alone. Zero credit to the coaching staff?? Frankie Lim is a newbie in the coaching world. An ex-PBA player on his second term as amateur coach can not measure up to a champion veteran coach like Louie Alas, who has been with Letran for over 10 years. A comparison would be unfair for both parties. When Koy Banal left the Lions’ Den, it was a painful loss to the community. It was difficult to let go of an experienced mentor. But the Red Lions’ program needed stability in the long-term. Needed was a coach with the commitment to the program and excellent rapport with the players. Everyone knew that experience will have to be earned. Frankie Lim was the logical choice.

He continues to learn the ropes, but what he lacks in coaching, he more than makes up for recruitment. We will reap the fruits of his recruitment prowess in the coming years. Besides, he has an able coaching staff who guides him in his baby steps toward amateur coaching. I do think he deserves more credit that has been given him. He actually steered this team to a championship last season.  That milestone wasn’t too long ago to forget. San Beda has had able mentors in the past, but a rigodon of these coaches did not produce a championshop for San Beda in a long 28 year drought.

Frankly, I appreciate these thriller, nailbiting games San Beda has found itself in. A loss will definitely break my heart, but it is through these setbacks that they draw out real strength. These are constant reminders for EVERYONE that San Beda is breakable, beatable. To every person on that bench, it tells them that this title will not be delivered in a silver platter. It keeps every hardcore Bedan foot on the ground and always on their toes with every game, every opponent. We will get to the title, for sure. But it will not be as easy as the last one. Nothing is ever static. As our team improves, so does the rest of the field. San Beda’s lineup is a fortress in the amateur basketball scene. But towards that dynasty, it will be a bumpy ride. So, breathe deeply, keep fingers crossed and enjoy the ride. Coz the San Beda basketball system, after all, is still a work in progress. Not only courage is needed, San Beda. But patience…

Amidst that deep breath, keep the Red alive. Animo San Beda!

Go San Beda Fight!


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