Veteran coach Boyet Fernandez made the necessary adjustment as defending champion San Beda University bounced back and dealt De La Salle University its first loss, 72-70, in the 12th FilOil Flying V Preseason Cup on Monday night at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City.
Fernandez said that he tweaked the players’ rotation following the Red Lions’ close 54-56 loss to University of the Philippines (UP) last Friday— three days after returning from a training camp in the United States.
“Well, I took the blame on our game against UP due to the fact that I tried to mix up my rotations because we have to see other players playing with one another in preparation as usual for the NCAA. But it backfired to us,” explained Fernandez.
“Actually (in this game), we didn’t rotate everyone again and we just stuck with our rotations. Even though La Salle came back in the third quarter and led in the fourth, at least our defense is there. Just what I always say, I will credit a won game to the boys but take the blame for a loss. We’re happy we got this win,” he added.
As expected, the previous preseason’s finalists battled toe-to-toe until the end. La Salle’s Kira Samuel tied the game at 68-all with 1:06 left but the Kiwi center fouled San Beda forward Javee Mocon while shooting a triple.
Mocon sank the three free throws for a 71-68 lead with 48.8 seconds remaining en route to the Lions’ hard-earned win.
The 6-foot-4 Mocon topscored with 20 points anchored on three three-pointers on top of six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“This is an important win for us. Coming from the US, people expected a lot from us. But then we lost to UP. We were downed. But in this game, all of us were motivated and it showed,” said Mocon.
San Beda improved to 3-2 win-loss at No. 5 while La Salle dropped to No. 2 with a 6-1 slate.
Meanwhile, another San Beda stalwart in Robert Bolick towed Gilas Pilipinas Cadets to 97-78 rout of Mapua University.
Bolick, in his debut with the also-ran Cadets, notched 10 of his 13 points in the breakaway fourth quarter.
Filipino-American forward Troy Rike, Ateneo standouts Matt Nieto and Thirdy Ravena also displayed impressive debut performances for the “23-for-23” team. Rike tallied 11 points while Nieto and Ravena chipped in nine and eight markers, respectively.
“We look more like a team now. We played more deliberately,” said Gilas Pilipinas head coach Jong Uichico.
The No.8 Cadets hiked their record to 3-5 while sending the No. 4 Cardinals to their third straight loss after a four-win start.
In the Group B game earlier, Far Eastern University (FEU) rode on a strong start as it nabbed a quarterfinal berth with a 78-66 triumph against San Sebastian College-Recoletos.
The Tamaraws posted a commanding 36-15 halftime lead then foiled a late fightback by the Stags to clinch a playoff spot with a group-best 7-1 sheet.
“I told the players before the game that they have to be smart about everything and have that “next play” mentality. That’s what we saw in them,” said FEU sophomore mentor Olsen Racela.
San Sebastian dropped to No. 6 after absorbing its second straight setback and an overall 3-3 card.
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