San Beda advanced to the finals of NCAA Season 99, demonstrating a powerful display against Lyceum of the Philippines University with an 82-72 victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday. This win propels them into a final showdown with Mapua. The team's remarkable performance, especially in the second half, was a key factor in securing their place in the finals.
According to Philippines News Agency, San Beda's strategy revolved around their three-point prowess in the latter half of the game. They managed to sink nine triples in the second half, with seven of them in the third quarter, creating a significant lead over the Pirates. James Payosing and Jomel Puno were pivotal in this effort, contributing 18 and 15 points respectively. Additionally, Nygel Gonzales played a crucial role, adding 11 points to the team's total, including three vital triples in the third quarter.
This victory was particularly notable considering the subdued performance of Jacob Cortez, who only scored seven points following his impressive 28-point contribution in San Beda's initial Final Four victory over LPU. San Beda coach Yuri Escueta credited the victory to the team's ability to adapt and capitalize on opportunities when Lyceum focused on neutralizing Cortez.
The win sets the stage for San Beda to face Mapua in the best-of-three finals, starting Wednesday at MOA. The second game is scheduled for December 10 at the same venue, with a potential deciding third game on December 17 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
For Lyceum, the result marks a disappointing end to their semifinal journey, having entered with a twice-to-beat advantage but failing to overcome San Beda in both encounters. They will have an opportunity to compete for third place against College of St. Benilde on December 10 at MOA, a new one-game battle format being introduced for the first time in the league's history.