Red Lions sweep the first round, Knights and Stags collect big wins

The San Beda Red Lions collected their ninth straight win to sweep the first round of Season 95. San Beda used a strong fourth quarter run to pull away from the Mapua Cardinals, getting the 69-60 win. Mapua ends the first round with a 3-6 record.

Calvin Oftana was excellent for San Beda. He poured in 24 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out five assists for a total all-around show in the game. James Kwekuteye and Donald Tankuoa contributed 10 points each to back up Oftana. Paolo Hernandez continued a strong rookie run with 16 points on four triples.

The Cardinals, gunning for a crucial fourth win kept in step with the Red Lions for most of the game. Mapua was within four points as both teams headed to the final period. Hernandez and Cyril Gonzales had an answer for every run mounted by San Beda throughout the game.

Unfortunately for Mapua, they didn’t have a response for the final blast by the Red Lions. Oftana led San Beda in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 of his total during that stretch. His highlight jam, ended a 10-2 run that pushed the Red Lions ahead by seven points. Kwekuteye added a fast break layup in the final minute to seal the win.

In the first game of the day, the Letran Knights nabbed a big win over the Benilde Blazers. The Knights dominated the Blazers, 88-64 to end the first round at 6-3. The Blazers fall to 6-3 as well, forcing a tie for second place.

Jerrick Balanza led the way with 26 points on 62% shooting. Bonbon Batiller scored 10 points to help the Knights’ cause. Eight other players scored at least five points to highlight the balanced scoring of the team. Kendrix Belgica scored 12 points to lead the Blazers in scoring.

The Knights started off the game strong and never looked back. Balanza and Batiller formed a potent combination, scoring 11 of Letran’s 25 first quarter points. Balanza caught fire in the second half, dropping 10 of his total output during that stretch. With Balanza leading the way, Letran was able to stifle any comeback attempts from Benilde.

In the third quarter, the Knights put the game away for good. They outscored Benilde, 27-14 to take a massive 14-point lead heading to the final period. The game was as good as done at that point. Letran’s defense limited Benilde to just 36% shooting in the game. They also forced 23 turnovers. In contrast, the Knights shot 44% and dished out 19 assists.

In the final game of the day, the San Sebastian Golden Stags earned their fourth straight win, knocking down the Arellano Chiefs, 85-79. The Stags forced a four-way tie at second place with their sixth win in nine games. The Chiefs on the other hand, end the first round with a 2-7 slate.

Allyn Bulanadi and RK Ilagan continue their strong run this season. Bulanadi led the Stags with 22 points and seven rebounds. Ilagan added 12 points and four assists. JM Calma had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds to help the Stags out. Arellano leaned on Kent Salado and Justin Arana who both scored 13.

The Stags got clutch plays in the end game on both ends. San Sebastian had a nine-point lead heading to the final period but the Chiefs started to chip away at that lead in the fourth quarter. Thankfully for the Stags, they were able to force several misses from the Chiefs in the final two minutes of the game. Calma then scored the dagger bucket inside to end Arellano’s comeback bid.