MANILA, Philippines – Donald Tankoua and Javee Mocon delivered in the end game to push the San Beda University Red Lions past Ateneo de Manila University, 57-52, in the semifinals of the 2018 Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) on Monday at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
With the hard-earned victory, the Red Lions set up a title showdown with NCAA nemesis Lyceum of the Philippines University. The Pirates earlier defeated San Sebastian College to advance to the finals on Thursday, also at the San Juan venue.
San Beda was playing without chief playmaker Robert Bolick in their battle with fellow collegiate champion Ateneo, as the guard was sidelined with a right knee injury. His absence was a big blow to the Red Lions, as Bolick has established himself as San Beda’s top option in crunch time.
Against the Blue Eagles, however, Mocon and Tankoua stepped up to make the big plays on both ends of the floor in the final two minutes.
“Somebody had to step up in the shoes of Robert,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez. “I’m happy that Donald stepped up and Joe Presbitero executed our offense.”
It was a tight game all the way, but Ateneo created some separation at the top of the fourth frame, 44-39. Mocon proceeded to go to work at that point, as the veteran forward scored seven straight points to restore San Beda’s advantage, 46-44, with 5:26 to go.
The two squads exchanged buckets from there, with Mocon scoring on a lay-up for a 52-50 lead with 1:40 to go, only for Ateneo’s Raffy Verano to answer with a bucket of his own and knot the game at 52 with still 1:23 left.
The Red Lions proved to have more tricks up their sleeve in crunch time, however. Tankoua came up with a steal off Matt Nieto in the final minute, and went all the way for the go-ahead lay-up that made it 54-52 with 51 seconds left.
Anton Asistio badly misfired on a triple in Ateneo’s next possession, and Mocon padded their lead with a couple of charities. The Blue Eagles attempted to go for a quick two-pointer out of a timeout, but Tankoua recovered to block Thirdy Ravena at the rim.
The Cameroonian center proceeded to ice the victory at the free throw line. Tankoua finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks in the win. Mocon, meanwhile, torched Ateneo for 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
One of the top offensive teams in the UAAP last season, Ateneo shot only 28% from the field against the Red Lions. Ravena needed 12 shots to score 11 points, and no other Blue Eagle reached double-digits.
San Beda now turns its focus on Lyceum, which they beat in the finals of the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament. Bolick remains uncertain for the PCCL title game, however, with the guard set to undergo an MRI on his right knee on Tuesday.
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