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NCAA: Red Lions back to work after 3-day rest

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Calvin Oftana of San Beda University leads the MVP race in the NCAA Season 95. (MB File Photo / Rio Deluvio)

Calvin Oftana of San Beda University leads the MVP race in the NCAA Season 95. (MB File Photo / Rio Deluvio)

By Waylon Galvez

After a well-deserved three-day rest, defending three-time champion San Beda University gets back to work in preparation for the Finals in NCAA Season 95 weeks from now.

“We gave the players a three-day break as their bonus for sweeping the eliminations,” said SBU coach Boyet Fernandez Sunday. “That’s the longest we gave them this year. Normally two days na and pinakamatagal na pahinga.”

“We’ll go back to work Monday (morning) to start preparing for the Finals.”

Fernandez also plans to give weekend rest for the players on Nov. 1 and 2.

San Beda clinched an outright finals berth following an 18-0 sweep capped by an 85-62 victory over Lyceum of the Philippines University Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.

The achievement marked the second time the Mendiola-based team made it outright of the Finals after it also swept the elimination round with a 16-0 card during the 2010 season.

That team under then coach Frankie Lim went on to capture the championship by beating San Sebastian College-Recoletos 2-0 in the best-of-three finals.

San Beda’s Cameroonian center Donald Tankoua hopes to win another title in his final year with the Red Lions in the NCAA Season 95. (NCAA Images)

San Beda’s Cameroonian center Donald Tankoua hopes to win another title in his final year.  (NCAA Images)

This year, San Beda still awaits its finals opponent.

The three teams that made it to the semifinals – Lyceum, Letran and SSC-R – will go though the stepladder playoffs. Fernandez said that any of these teams are solid and dangerous to play in the Finals.

“Lahat naman ng teams, kasama na kami, lahat gusto ng championship. Pagdating sa stage na yun, I’m pretty sure kahit sinong makalaban namin, gagawin ang lahat para talunin kami,” said Fernandez.

The third seeded Knights and the fourth ranked Stags will face off in the first round slated Nov. 5 with the winner advancing to another do-or-die match against the No. 2 Pirates on Nov. 8 to determine the last finalist.

The two playoffs games will be played at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

Game 1 of the best-of-three Finals series is on Nov. 12 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Whoever the Red Lions play in the Finals will be a decided underdog, what with the Lions’ balanced roster.

Leading SBU is top MVP contender Calvin Oftana, graduating Cameroonian center Donald Tankoua, Filipino-Canadian James Canlas-Kwekuteye, forward Clint Doliguez and ace guard Evan Nelle.

“We have a great group of guys who know how to sacrifice for the good of the team,” Nelle said. “Hopefully we get the job done and win the title for San Beda. We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’ll work for it and give it our best.”

San Beda’s Filipino-Canadian guard James Canlas-Kwekuteye has blossomed into one of the key players in the Red Lions’ bid for a fourth straight title in the NCAA Season 95. (NCAA Images)

San Beda’s Filipino-Canadian guard James Canlas-Kwekuteye, right, has blossomed into one of the key players in the Red Lions’ bid for a fourth straight title in NCAA Season 95. (NCAA Images)

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