Red Lions near big elims sweep

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    AN elimination round sweep rewarded with an outright finals slot is now a big possibility for defending three-time champion San Beda University after it woke up from stupor against College of St. Benilde yesterday.

    Leaning on a big second half push, the Red Lions whipped the Blazers 95-73 for their 17th straight win in the 95th NCAA basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

    MVP pacesetter Calvin Oftana delivered the goods for San Beda with a career-high 29 points, 14 of them coming in the third canto, on top of nine rebounds and five assists while James Canlas chipped in 21 markers, nine boards, and seven dimes.

    Six-foot-5 Cameroonian import Donald Tankoua and AC Soberano also added 13 and 10 points, respectively, as the Lions remained unbeaten whileCSB slipped to 7-9.

    In the other game, Mapua University stunned San Sebastian College, scoring a 90-73 triumph to keep its Final Four hopes alive.

    Veteran guard Noah Lugo led the Cardinals with 22 points, four caroms, and four feeds while Laurenz Victoria had 18 and five.

    Cyril Gonzales also tossed in 15 points for Mapua, which snapped its two-game losing skid and improved to 8-8 for fifth.

    San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez said he took his charges to task for their anemic start.

    “Simple lang ang sinabi ko sa players ko sa halftime. We’re really playing well in the last 16 games and they will just do the different thing come the 17th game?” said Fernandez.

    “Mahiya naman sila sa mga sarili nila,” he added.

    The Lions trailed 41-42 at the half but used a backbreaking 27-8 blitz spearheaded by the 6-foot-4 Oftana to take a 72-58 spread going into the payoff period. Blazers gunner Justin Gutang was called for a flagrant foul after he hit Oftana with an elbow to the chin at the 7:24 mark of the third.

    San Beda was never threatened from there.

    Gutang was the lone bright spot for CSB with 23 points.

    The Golden Stags absorbed their seventh defeat against nine wins.

    “Kailangan lang naming bumawi doon sa first round kasi tinambakan nila kami noon.

    Malaking panalo ito talaga sa amin,” said.