Red Lions inch closer to big sweep

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    FOUR-PEAT seeking San Beda University moved within three wins of an eliminations sweep yesterday that is rewarded with an outright finals slot. Red Lions coach Boyet Fernandez refused to talk about it, but there’s no denying that his squad is primed on realizing that lofty goal.

    Boosted by a big third quarter breakaway, San Beda whipped Letran 75-63 for its 15th straight win in the 95th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

    MVP pacesetter Calvin Oftana showed the way for the Lions with a game-high 16 points anchored on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, on top of six rebounds and two assists while Clint Doliguez chipped in 13 markers and three boards.

    Evan Nelle and James Canlas also combined for 24 points as San Beda remained unbeaten with a 15-0 card and 29-0 dating back to last season.

    The Knights absorbed their second loss in a row and slipped to 9-6, still good for solo third.
    The Lions edged Letran 70-66 in their first meeting last Aug. 10.

    San Beda, which is already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four, went into the match armed with a 75-62 drubbing of Perpetual Help last Sept. 26.

    In the other game, Emilio Aguinaldo College proved its big win the last time out was no fluke, scoring an 80-76 decision over struggling Perpetual Help for its second straight victory and kept alive its slim Final Four hopes alive.

    The Generals charged back from an early 14-point deficit behind the likes of shooter Jethro Mendoza, Kriss Gurtiza, and JP Maguliano to complete the big triumph and improve to 3-11. The Altas slipped to 3-10.

    “Frankly speaking, as I have told you, let’s discuss the situation when it comes (elims sweep). Pero as of now, we’re just thinking of getting one more win out of our last three games to be No. 1,” said Fernandez.

    “The challenge is to be the No. 1 team after the eliminations. We already got a twice-to-beat advantage but being No. 1 is also what we are looking at. Again, let’s discuss the situation pagdating ng panahon but as of now, we’ll try to win our next game,” he added.