San Beda Red Lions are crowned as the champions of Pinoyliga NEXT MAN cUP after beating Lyceum Pirates in a hard-fought championship game, 77-75, last Sunday at Activate Hoop Arena.
The men from Mendiola needed the heroics of Jomel Puno and Clifford Jopia in the end game to finish off the pesky Pirates.
Off a timeout with 3 seconds remaining in the game, San Beda goes to the hot hands of Puno but his jumper got blocked by the Pirates' defense. Fortunately, Jopia is in the right place at the right time to turn the garbage into gold as the time expires and eventually gave the title to the Red Lions.
The victory marked San Beda’s first collegiate Pinoyliga championship after failing to advance to the semi-final round in their season debut last year. They had previously won the Pinoyliga crown in the Alumni Division of the league before the pandemic.
CJ Saure carried the fight for Lyceum in the crucial stretch where he made two clutch baskets to tie the game. He finished with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pirates.
Jopia is hailed as the Finals MVP after collecting his own double-double of 17 points and 12 rebounds with 1 steal and 2 blocks while shooting 80% from the field.
Meanwhile, CSB Blazers captured the Third Place finish after a cardiac finish against UE Red Warriors.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in an overtime classic, Josiah Alcantara made a steal and a breakaway layup to give the Red Warriors a one-point lead. However, Macoy Marcos made the biggest shot of his young career right at the buzzer after grabbing the offensive board and throwing up a prayer that sailed in the basket, giving the Taft-based squad the Third Place title.
Together with teammate James Payosing, Genesis Aviles of Lyceum Pirates, Willie Wilson of UE Red Warriors, and Carlo Sumabat of CSB Blazers, Jopia, who was awarded Finals MVP, made the NextMAN Cup Mythical Selection.
San Beda head coach Andre Santos, the youngest coach in Pinoyliga, was hailed as the best coach of the tournament after leading the Red Lions to the top after the eliminations and all the way to winning the championship.
After the Holy Week, the Pinoyliga Cup will resume action with its Alumni Division next week and Collegiate Division Team A.
San Beda - Jopia 17, Puno 11, Tagle 11, Peregrina 8, Alloso 7, Tagala 7, Jalbuena 5, Royo 5, Ratuiste 4, Teruel 2
Lyceum - Saure 16, Moralejo 14, Montano 13, Omandac 8, Caduyac 8, Garro 7, Aviles 4, Alaticca 2, Daileg 2, Versoza 1