By Joey Villar (philstar.com)
MANILA, Philippines – San Beda on Tuesday reclaimed the championship it lost last year by turning back Jio Jalalon and Arellano U, 83-73, and completing a title run despite some major bumps on the road in the 92nd NCAA basketball tournament before a sea of red and blue crowd that packed the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
Like in the past games including an 88-85 win in Game One Thursday, the Lions produced a lot of heroes such as Cameroonian Arnaud Noah, who came through with the game of his life to help his team win their ninth title in the last 11 seasons and a league-best 20th overall.
Noah, who backed up countryman Donald Tankoua before the latter fell to a season-ending ACL injury early in the second round, came through with 18 points and 11 rebounds while providing boundless energy on the defensive end after he contributed 14 points and seven boards in the opener.
It was far cry from his measly averages of seven points and four rebounds.
But on this one, Noah found the right day to shine.
For his feat, he was named Finals MVP.
When the game is already decided, the confetti fell and the Lions celebrated along with their fans headed by top supporter Manny V. Pangilinan. For his part, San Beda coach Jamike Jarin silently stood in the background and relished the win that came one year late after they were unseated by the Letran Knights, last year’s champions.
“Yes, redemption,” said Jarin. “It was a heartbreaking loss last year and it took me a year to get back here and along the way I had all these young men supporting us and I’m just happy.”
Jarin talked about total team effort as he kept finding different players stepping up in different games.
In Game One, there was the troika of Robert Bolick, Benedict Adamos and team captain Dan Sara.
On this one, there was Noah, AC Soberano, Jayvee Mocon and Davon Potts.
Soberano fired at will and finished with 16 points including four booming triples while Mocon had 10 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
Potts, for his part, lived up to his reputation as a fourth quarter man and exploded for 10 points after being held scoreless in the first three.
In the end, it was Noah who came shone the brightest.
“To be honest, the reason I got him is because I really want him to play different positionsm, the four, three and even the two,” said Jarin of Noah, a native of capital Yuandi. “He was struggling at first and all of a sudden he stepped up when Donald unfortunately fell to injury.”
“He deserved the MVP and I was not surprised,” he added.
Noah later dedicated his effort to Tankoua.
“He was sad he coudn’t play anymore this season so I dedicate this to my friend,” said Noah, a former slam dunk champion in the NCAA.
Jio Jalalon finished with a near triple-double performance with 19 points, 10 assists and seven caroms but, for the second straight game, he couldn’t do anything to stop San Beda from clinching the title.
Curiously, the Chiefs lost all their five games against the Lions this year.
Arellano U also remained winless in the finals after it was also swept by San Beda in their title game two years ago.
He was lost for words after the game and respectfully declined to talk.
As for Arellano U coach Jerry Codinera, there’s one full year to think about of what went wrong.
“It’s not the end of the world, there’s still hope we could come back next year,” said Codinera.
SBC (83) – Noah 18, Soberano 16, Bolick 13, Mocon 10, Potts 10, Sara 7, Presbitero 5, Adamos 2, Bonsubre 2, Alas 0, Tongco 0, Carlos 0, Optana 0.
AU (73) – Jalalon 19, Enriquez 14, Nicholls 12, Cañete 8, Gumaru 6, Meca 5, Cadavis 4, Salado 4, Flores 1, Holts 0, Aguilar 0, Viloria 0.
Quarterscores: 18-25, 45-40, 63-60, 83-73