Red Lions force rubber match

Red Lions force rubber match

Game Sunday
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. — Mapua vs San Beda

JACOB CORTEZ whipped up a fourth quarter storm as he carried San Beda University to a 71-65 victory over Mapua University on Sunday before a record 22,465 Mall of Asia Arena crowd and the NCAA Season 99 finale into a deciding Game Three.

With the exception of his stinging free throw misses, Mr. Cortez was just nothing less than electric as he poured in eight of his game-best 21 points in the final period including a pair of galactic three-point bombs that turned the tide in the Red Lions’ favor.

It came several days after a forgettable effort in a 68-63 defeat in last Wednesday’s opener that led to the 21-year-old son of ex-PBA stalwart Mike Cortez to make a vow of coming back strong in Game Two.

And Mr. Cortez wasn’t about to renege on it.

“Jacob (Cortez), after a bad game like that, you know he’s special,” said San Beda coach Yuri Escueta of Mr. Cortez. “He doesn’t want to lose, he told me at the start of the ballgame.”

Mr. Cortez, for his part, was quick to defer and share the accolades to his teammates.

“It’s not just me, the other guys stepped up as well, not just offensively but defensively, it’s about sticking together as a team,” he said.

The win was also San Beda’s first over Mapua after three straight setbacks this season.

“Very special,” said Mr. Escueta. “If there’s one thing we know and our players believe in is that we can beat them, but it won’t be easy though.”

With the series tied at one game each, the Red Lions and the Cardinals fight it off one final time Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The game became a foul-shooting contest as the two combined 64 attempts there.

And as expected, both the schools felt the enormity of the pressure of a finals game as the Red Lions missed half of the 34 they attempted there and the Cardinals 12 of the 30 they bricked.

In the end though, it was Mr. Cortez and the gutsy Red Lions who made the biggest plays when needed to snatch the win.

Earlier, College of St. Benilde (CSB) dumped Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU), 93-83, to clinch third place.

Robi Nayve and Miguel Corteza made their final game as Blazers memorable and poured in 18 and 14 points, respectively, while Josh Cajucom chipped in 15 to become the first winner of the newly instituted battle for third place.

“We’ll take it, we would have been fourth under normal circumstances,” said CSB coach Charles Tiu.

The Pirates, who were already without Enoch Valdez who already signed and playing for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA, were paced by Mclaude Guadana’s 16 points and Alvin Penafiel’s 15 points but just didn’t have the killer instinct as before. — Joey Villar

The scores:

First Game (Battle for Third)

CSB 93 — Nayve 18, Cajucom 15, Corteza 14, Marasigan 8, Carlos 7, Gozum 7, Sangco 6, Marcos 5, Morales 4, Lepalam 4, Arciaga 2, Jarque 2, Turco 1, Mara 0, Jalalon 0

LPU 83 — Guadaña 16, Penafiel 15, Montano 9, Umali 8, Barba 8, Cunanan 7, Culanay 6, Versoza 5, Aviles 4, Moralejo 3, Saure 2, Villegas 0

Quarterscores: 24-22; 43-41; 71-56; 93-83

Second Game (Finals)

San Beda 71 — Cortez 21, Puno 9, Andrada 9, Jopia 8, Alfaro 7, Royo 6, Cuntapay 5, Payosing 4, Tagle 2, Gonzales 0, Visser 0

Mapua 65 — Escamis 15, Recto 14, Hernandez 13, Soriano 10, Cuenco 5, Rodillo 5, Bonifacio 3

Quarterscores: 20-19; 42-30; 48-53; 71-65