By Jerome Lagunzad
On the day San Beda ace Robert Bolick couldn’t get anything going, his fellow Red Lions came through.
Javee Mocon and Davon Potts hit timely buckets while Cameroon center Donald Tankoua made defensive stops in the stretch as defending champion San Beda dodged the bullet against Jose Rizal University, 65-60, yesterday to close in on a Final Four berth in NCAA basketball at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Red Lions squandered an 18-point lead but recovered their bearings in time to avert a total collapse against the hard-fighting Heavy Bombers.
The victory extended San Beda’s winning streak to 11 and tightened its grip on the second spot with a 12-1 mark while allowing pacesetting Lyceum (13-0) to clinch the first twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.
JRU, meanwhile, suffered its third straight setback and fell to 7-6, still good for the third spot though.
The 6-foot-3 Mocon dished out another all-around performance of 19 points, 15 rebounds and five assists while Potts turned hot in time with 14 points, eight of them coming in the fourth where he drained back-to-back triples that put the Red Lions in control with 3:15 left to play.
The 6-foot-6 Tankoua, who also had a double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds, made his presence felt especially on the defensive end as he came through with a pair of gems, the latter a steal off JRU counterpart’s AbdulRazak AbdulWahab near the end.
“It’s really our defense that helped us win this game,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez. “We played good defense that resulted in clutch shots from Javee Mocon.”
Jed Mendoza had a team-high 16 points, 10 of them in the third quarter where the Heavy Bombers woke up from slumber as they fired away for 27 points and dragged the Red Lions to a tight finish.
Abdoul Poutouchci and Aaron Gordon joined the fray in the fourth as they helped JRU grab the lead at 57-56 off the latter’s triple with 4:19 remaining.
That proved to be the Heavy Bombers’ last mission, however.
Bolick, who missed all nine tries from the field, set up Potts and Mocon in scoring eight unanswered points to get the Red Lions to safety.