NCAA CROWN: LIONS FEAST ON KNIGHTS, MATCH HISTORIC FEAT
MANILA, SEPTEMBER 27, 2007 (STAR) By Joey Villar - San Beda took the best dished out by Letran and proved again it’s better, cruising to a 76-64 victory last night and sealing a second straight NCAA men’s basketball crown for the first time in almost three decades at the Araneta Coliseum.
Reasserting their supremacy in almost all departments, the Red Lions seized control early behind Rogemar Menor and Yousif Aljamal then spent the last quarter breaking the Knights’ pressure-defense with swift passing and clutch baskets to pound out the victory before roaring fans.
Menor, an MVP during his high school days with the Cubs, sizzled with 25 points while Aljamal, last year’s finals MVP, came away with 24 points as the prolific duo combined for more than half of the team’s output for the victory that practically duplicated the Red Lions’ romp last year when they swept the PCU Dolphins in the best of three showdown.
“I got to give to the boys. They showed a lot of class, they weren’t afraid to shoot like what Menor and Aljamal did,” said San Beda coach Frankie Lim, basking in glory in the din of celebration at the jampacked Big Dome.
The back-to-back title romp thus matched the feat by the 1977-78 squad when Lim was still a player along with Chito Loyzaga and JB Yango and under now team consultant Bonnie Carbonel.
“It’s my first time coaching, it’s a lot sweeter than when I was still a player. I feel like I just got married,” said Lim.
It also put a good ending to what had been a tumultuous, controversy-marred season.
“This one’s for everybody, for the San Beda community,” Lim said.
Letran coach Louie Alas said they lost to a better team but the Knights, who wept for their failed bid, vowed to come back strong next year.
“We lost to a very strong team, you have to play perfect to beat them,” said Alas, who was responsible for three of the Muralla-based school’s league best 15 titles. “We’ll be back next year.”
So does San Beda.
With the win, San Beda thus pocketed its 13th seniors crown next only to Letran’s 15 and former member Ateneo’s 14.
Menor later bagged the Finals MVP following an equally spectacular 23-point performance in a 76-68 Game 1 triumph last week.
“I’m so glad I stayed with San Beda,” said the 21-year-old Menor, who nearly opted for another school three years ago.
The Lions dominated the game and led by as many as 17 points, 41-24, in the second quarter before the Knights clawed their way back to trim it down to five, 52-47, late in the third period.
Aljamal and Menor then took over a big fourth quarter charge to finally take the fight out of the Knights, whose pressure defense backfired as the Lions simply scored on quick passing anchored on Menor.
Earlier, Kelvin dela Pena of Mapua bagged the MVP plum, edging fellow Mythical First Team members Aljamal, Marvin Hayes of Jose Rizal, Bryan Faundo and Dino Daa of Letran.
Other individual awardees were San Sebastian’s Jason Ballesteros (Defensive Player), Hayes (Most Improved) and San Beda’s David Marcelo (Rookie of the Year).
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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