I thought that the game today was just another day in the office for the Red Lions. An easy score into the win column for San Beda. The players probably had the same thing in mind as they entered the court today. But boy, were we all mistaken…
It was College of Saint Benilde’s show, being hosts for this season. And they carried it over to gametime. The Arena was painted green, an enthusiastic pep squad in attendance. The Blazers were tenacious, both on offense and defense. They kept on fighting, pounding at the tournament favorites, quarter after quarter.
But then.. It was the heart of the champion that carried San Beda through.
Baser Amer was on top of things, yet again. He is, hands down, the best point guard in the
collegiate ranks in my books. He didn’t have the perfect game, but whatever mistakes he committed, he made sure to compensate them. His teammates are calm and composed when he’s around. He simply puts the rotation in order.
Art dela Cruz.. Ateneo’s loss.. San Beda’s gain. This is what I keep telling myself everytime I see Art dela Cruz. And I shouted this out the loudest this afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena. Game after game after game, he is slowly emerging as the Red Lions’ top offensive option. As I saw him float in the air to receive the alley oop pass from Rome dela Rosa on top of the goal, I told myself he has truly arrived.
And my, my, my… That final play, was vintage Boyet Fernandez. I remembered that play when you won your first championship with NLEX. Ronald Pascual converted a jumper near the baseline, with 0.8 seconds left. Nung na-shoot yun, napa-tumbling ka pa!
Abot langit ang saya ko kanina nung nakashoot si Art, pero wala yun sa kalahati ng sa ‘yo. Nang mapatakbo ka galing sa bench ng San Beda, hanggang sa harap ng bench ng Benilde, that was classic!!!
It was a scrappy win for San Beda. But I saw some bright spots during the game that made me smile. Jaypee Mendoza pulling down key rebounds.. Kyle Pascual swatting some shots.. Yvan Ludovice clocking in his well-deserved playing time.. Rome dela Rosa getting back into his running game.. Lots of other things to look forward to in the upcoming season.
My voice hoarse, my throat scratchy, but my heart flutters.. The basketball fan in me is giddy again with excitement. The Red Lions ushered in the collegiate basketball season for me today. It’s time to bring all the red out from my closet, the race to the 4-peat starts now.
Go San Beda Fight!
PS: For game highlights, and a blow-by-blow of the final play, check out this ink: http://www.interaksyon.com/interaktv/video-fourth-quarter-highlights-of-san-bedas-thrilling-win-over-benilde