MANILA -- San Beda lived to fight another day in the NCAA men's basketball finals after beating archrival Letran, 79-76, in Game 2 of the championship series at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Friday night.
Calvin Oftana scored on the eventual game-winning shot as the Red Lions bounced back from their Game 1 loss, their first defeat ever in Season 95, and forced the decider on Tuesday night back at the MOA Arena.
San Beda vented its ire on Letran right at the very first quarter, holding its bitter rival to just seven points before taking a 12-point lead at halftime, 37-25.
However, Fran Yu came alive in the third quarter as Letran dropped 31 points in the said quarter to take a 56-53 lead entering the fourth.
The team tried to pull away early in the fourth when Jerrick Balanza and Larry Muyang contributed to help open a 66-59 lead.
The Red Lions, however, answered with a 13-0 run to reclaim the lead, 72-66.
The Knights fought back and took a 76-74 advantage but Oftana dashed his way through the defense and scored a crucial layup with 19.1 seconds left plus the ensuing free throw for a 77-76 lead.
Bonbon Batiller tried to regain the lead for Letran but he fumbled the ball just as he was to release an open layup that eventually sealed the team's fate.
James Kwekuteye, who was formally named into the Mythical Five, made 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals for San Beda.
Oftana, who was formally given the Most Valuable Player award, and Clint Doliguez each added 17 markers.
Yu finished with 23 markers, two rebounds, and five assists for Letran before sitting out the last 3:55 of the game due to cramps.
Muyang added 17 markers, 10 boards, two assists, and one block.
SAN BEDA 79 -- Canlas 21, Oftana 17, Doliguez 17, Carino 7, Nelle 5, Soberano 5, Cuntapay 3, Tankoua 2, Abuda 2, Bahio 0, Noah 0.
LETRAN 76 -- Yu 23, Muyang 17, Batiller 11, Ambohot 9, Balanza 9, Caralipio 7, Olivario 0, Ular 0, Mina 0, Reyson 0, Balagasay 0, Sangalang 0.
Quarters: 18-7, 37-25, 53-56, 79-76. (PNA)