SAN BEDA annexed another men’s basketball championship this year, cementing its enduring dynasty in the NCAA.
In a season marred with controversies, the Red Lions simply rose to the challenge to keep their winning tradition in the country’s oldest collegiate athletic meet. The Red Lions have now won a record 22nd title in the league.
Not even the return of CJ Perez of Lyceum of the Philippines University in Game 2 after a one-game suspension could stop San Beda from completing its job to clinch its third straight NCAA diadem and 11th in the last 13 seasons.
And the Red Lions had Javee Mocon and Robert Bolick to thank for. Mocon imposed his will in the middle while point guard Bolick, playing selfless basketball, displayed tremendous passing which sent LPU’s defense in tatters.
Mocon eventually became the most valuable player in the finals.
”Masaya ako at least nakuha namin yung championship. At least napalitan yung pagod at puyat at sakripisyo ng mga players ko sa practices for all those preparations for this season,” said coach Boyet Fernandez, who is now 4-of-4 in the Finals for the Lions.
For the second straight year, the Pirates ended up bridesmaids and will try again next season, but this time without Perez.
Players come and go, but San Beda has a successful recipe to a successful program.
”It’s really the product of recruitment. It’s not only a product of my coaching,” said Fernandez. “Tomorrow we will wake up again and look for the championship.”
Bolick, who scored 50 points in a first round game against Arellano University, and Mocon, thus ended their collegiate careers as winners.
The Finals took a controversial turn as Perez, last season’s MVP, was slapped with a one-game suspension after having been found not informing the league of his PBA rookie draft intentions.
Also, the league gave University of Perpetual Help System Dalta a mere slap in a wrist, as it reprimanded and issued a stern warning to the school after Policy Board found them guilty of fielding in a “school-based team” in a non-NCAA league.
The NCAA proceeded on the inquiry regarding the eligibility of Edgar Charcos and Kim Aurin - two key players who were instrumental the Altas’ rise this season - along with Tonton Peralta, and Kyt Jimenez - who all played for the Las Piñas Home Defenders in the Metro Basketball Tournament late last year.
That endangered Perpetual Help’s bid for a return Final Four stint until the decision came out.
San Sebastian had its two first round wins forfeited after RK Ilagan was found guilty of violating eligibility rules for playing in an unauthorized basketball game outside the NCAA days before the start of the season.
The season belonged to Nigerian Prince Eze, who, aside from steering the Altas back to the Final Four in coach Frankie Lim’s first season with the team, has won the season MVP honors.
In the juniors division, Mapua wrested away the crown from CSB-La Salle Green Hills after winning a tough three-game series.
When Anne Esguerra delivered the championship point against San Beda — which also turned out to be her final collegiate kill — Arellano became the NCAA’s new women’s volleyball dynasty.
The Lady Chiefs have ruled the league in three of the last four seasons, having toppled the Lady Altas, the Lady Stags and the Lady Red Spikers in succession.
Aside from Esguerra, the Lady Chiefs have lost key players Jovie Prado and Andrea Marzan to graduation last February.
Despite the situation, Arellano remained solid as ever, as it returns to action next week when the tournament resumes after the Christmas break undefeated in six matches.
The fruits of labor for the Lady Chiefs had already resulted to this success.
From an also-ran when Javier took over in 2011, Arellano has become a title contender, as it already tied Perpetual Help in third place among winningest squads behind San Sebastian (23) and Letran (eight).
”Talaga makikita naman natin noong nagsimula ako seventh place. Maganda support ang ibinigay ng (Arellano) admin, so dapat ibalik sa mga naninwala,” said Javier, who owes his coaching career to National University’s Johnny Candoy, Jake de Vera. Boy Dalistan, and Rizalito del Moro.
The Lady Chiefs were rewarded to reach this far. With Regine Arocha now leading the charge, the Legarda-based spikers are looking good to remain in the NCAA throne.
Shola Alvarez, who powered Jose Rizal University to its first-ever Final Four appearance, was named the season MVP.
Perpetual Help, meanwhile, won another NCAA men’s volleyball trophy at the expense of Arellano in a thrilling three-game series.
The Altas’ championship conquest served as a grand send off to their veteran players - Junjun Taneo, Warren Catipay and Jack Kalingking.
Taneo, the Finals MVP and the unquestioned leader of the team, Catipay, the league’s best setter, and Kalingking, the best libero, have all played their final game - ending as champions.
Perpetual Help may have been decimated, but the Las Piñas-based squad remains upbeat on another championship run in Season 94, as proved by its perfect 5-0 run heading into the Christmas break.
“I still have my rookie MVP in my team,” said Acaylar, referring to Cebuano native Joebert Almodiel. “I trust my team to win a championship again.”