Sunday, 28 October 2012 80 Comments
“This was a difficult championship. Letran made it tough for us. We went through a lot for this,” Magsanoc said during his Game 3 post-game interview. “We have been working hard for the past seven months and I always told the boys it’s all about the sacrifices we are willing to make.”
Indeed. Those 7 months felt like dog years. San Beda has its own little back story. There were a bunch of challenges in the off-season. The team had to adjust to a new coach and a new system. The loss of some key pieces with issues that decimated Red Lions line-up, leaving them without a legit go-to-guy. Players slapped with infractions which led to the team’s Super Six.
A loss to the Altas and two more elimination round losses against the Golden Stags has left a huge cloud of doubt if they still have the spunk to repeat as Champions, but despite the Red Lions weakened state, Coach Louie Alas, in a media gathering before game 3 still considers San Beda a major force to reckon with. A team without set of scorers but has a deep bench is still dangerous because at any given moment, anybody or everybody is a threat. A case in point, was Ryusei Koga’s explosion in Game 1, when he surprised everyone with 3 straight wide open lay-ups and a clutch 3-pointer at the very bottom of the 4th quarter.
The 1st game of the series, anything can happen, the outcome was decided minutes, even seconds, before the end of regulation. It was anybody’s ballgame.
After game 2, a lot of people questioned the Red Lions’ resolve. Their desire to win. Many said that their hearts weren’t in it.
With momentum on Letran’s side, Coach Magsanoc calmly went to the basics. Emphasizing and repeating that their primary goal was to make the key stops to finish the race, to sacrifice for the team.
To get his team psyched for the mission, the team viewed a capsulized post-game video of the Knights’ Jonathan Belorio after their 9 point triumph over the Red Lions in Game 2 when they heard him say that his team (Letran) can beat San Beda, playing it over and over approximately 4 times during the course of their huddle to set the tone. Suddenly, the atmosphere in the locker room suddenly became livid, as if eager to make an unyielding statement.
At the final buzzer, the result was one of the most lopsided Game 3 affairs on record.
“I’m tired but I’m very proud we won it,” said guard Anjo Caram, who played his last year with San Beda. “I will never forget this championship. We won a close game in Game 1 and then Letran came back strong in Game 2 but we kept our composure.”
In their pre-game huddle, Coach Magsanoc challenged everyone’s emotions. Challenged their resolve. To finish THE race. From his 3 point performance in Game 1, then 9-points in Game 2, Caram responded with en emphatic 17 points, winning his point-guard match-up against Mark Cruz in Game 3.
Ola Adeogun inserted in the starting five
Inserting the Big O in the starting line-up immediately boosted the inside presence of the Red Lions scoring 6 points in the 1st quarter but committed his 3rd personal fouls late in the 2nd quarter, forcing Coach Magsanoc to bench him thru most of the 2nd half, good thing veteran Kyle Pascual was there to pick up the slack producing 11 rebounds while containing both Raymund Alamazan and Jam Cortes (6 points, 6 rebounds) in the process.
He has been silent. Somehow bothered by his shoulder injury, the Red Lions skipper has been quiet all season but in game 3, he came out to play. His statement to Geoffrey Go, a Bedan Alumnus, during a team huddle in a timeout that occurred somewhere in the 2nd half – “aalis ako sa NCAA na 3-peat champion” – reverberated in his game as he snared 10 points on a 38% shooting from the field, 9 rebounds, and hustled with 3 steals – a big boost from his 8 points and 4 rebound production in Game 1 and 6 points & 4 rebounds in Game 2. He saved his best for the most important game of his senior career.
D for V
Defense does Win Championships but there’s another key element that should be part of the equation in any title run – Rebounding. Basketball is a also game of possession. More possessions mean more chances of scoring. To increase your chances, either you rebound the basketball or you play faster and go for the quick kill, better known as the 8 seconds or less offense. From a team average of 44.6 rebounds per game, the Red Lions dropped a total of 50 rebounds in game 3, boosting their offensive rebounding numbers by an additional 4 rebounds. The result, was a 10-6 advantage in 2nd chance points.
San Beda did both. They played excellent defense inside and out. Switching, helping and rotating. They’ve held Kevin Alas to a meager 11 points from his usual 20 points per game average and Mark Cruz though he managed to hit his game average of 10.7 points, the diminutive but productive Letran court general had to grind for each and every shot. He also failed to get his teammates involved with only 2 assists in Game 3 from an average of 3.8 assists after Game 2 and with an 18-12 advantage in turnover points, their commitment to defense played a key role in deposing the Knights.