San Beda’s aspirations of becoming a repeat champion in the Filoil Preseason Cup fell apart when Ateneo showed its might in the championship game on Saturday.
The Blue Eagles, the reigning UAAP champions, easily brushed off the NCAA champions Red Lions aside with a 76-62 beating for the title.
A loss as disappointing as that one could easily dampen any team’s spirit, but for Red Lions head coach Boyet Fernandez that setback was a welcome development as they turn their attention to the NCAA.
“This is a learning curve for us,” said Fernandez, whose team trailed. 45-26, at the end of the first half, at the Arena in San Juan. “I think this is one usual thing, we lost this game and we lost a championship so this is a lesson learned.”
“We know what we have to do, we came back in the third and the fourth, and so we kind of adjusted.”
The Red Lions, through their pressing defense, were able to chip away at Ateneo’s lead in the fourth even cutting it to as low as 11 in the final two minutes.
But SJ Belangel’s triple in the 1:38 mark stopped San Beda’s march and gave the Blue Eagles a 73-59 lead.
Tournament MVP Angelo Kouame then, followed up with a defensive haymaker coming up with an emphatic block on San Beda big man Donald Tankoua in the following possession for the Red Lions.
“We fell short, and I know that my players really fought back in the second half, but a 19-point deficit against Ateneo, of all teams, that’s really a difficult situation to be in,” said Fernandez in Filipino. “Again looking ahead to the NCAA, this will be a good lesson for them.”
“What happened to us against Ateneo was a learning curve and there are teams that really prepared against us and what Ateneo did to us other teams will also probably do that to us as well.”
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