Lions complete sweep, NCAA champs anew

The San Beda Red Lions fulfilled their date with destiny as they
completed a sweep of the
National
Collegiate
Athletic
Association (
NCAA) men’s
basketball season to be crowned
champions anew last Friday.

In front of a huge crowd of 13,000-plus at the historic Araneta
Coliseum, the Lions roared their way back to the top of the
NCAA, disposing off erstwhile
champions San Sebastian Golden Stags, 85-70, in Game Two of their
best-of-five finals series.

Needing to win just two games after gaining a direct pass to the
finals, and an automatic a 1-0 edge, following their sweep of the
elimination round, the Lions did not waste time and finished the
job as “prescribed.”

The victory thrust the Lions into the history books as they
became one of the very few teams in the whole of local collegiate
hoops who have finished an entire season spotless. Eighteen times
they were challenged, 18 times the Mendiola-based dribblers emerged
on top.

As was the case for much of Season 86 of the NCAA, it was
another master class that San Beda conducted in Game Two over San
Sebastian. The Stags as expected played with a sense of desperation
and were physical in their attack but the Lions were not to be
denied as the latter remained focused and absorbed everything the
Stags threw at them.

League most valuable player Sudan Daniel led the San Beda charge
in the title-clinching game, finishing with monster numbers of 24
points, 19 rebounds and five blocks. The American Daniel, who took
over the pivot reins from multititled San Beda Nigerian center Sam
Ekwe last year, was a force on both ends of the court to which San
Sebastian had no answer for. He wound up with championship averages
of 19.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and three blocks en route to being
voted finals MVP.

King Lion and Philippine Basketball Association-bound Borgie
Hermida, who led his team in their 93-73 Game One rout of the Stags
on Oct. 13, finished his San Beda career with 10 points, four
rebounds and five assists. Hermida spent 16 years with San Beda as
student and athlete and will be leaving as one of the winningest
players in Lions history. Incidentally, Hermida was also named to
the Mythical Team in his final year, along with teammates Daniel
and Garvo Lanete, San Sebastian’s Calvin Abueva and Arellano’s
Adrian Celada, in ceremonies held prior to the start of Game
Two.

Lanete finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists
for San Beda.

Jonathan Semira, meanwhile, led the way with 13 points for the
runners-up Stags, who are set to lose coach Ato Agustin next season
as he will be taking the coaching duties in San Miguel in the
PBA.

Main man Abueva had a hard time in their last game of the season
as he was limited to just eight points and six rebounds aside from
being called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Daniel in the early
part of the game.

This latest championship of San Beda is the fourth seniors title
in the last five years for the team, and 15th overall, making it
the second winningest school in tournament history. Letran still
has the most titles with 16 under its belt. The Lions’ sweep was
the first to be fashioned out in the last 16 years. The last team
to accomplish such a rare feat was San Sebastian.