MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The San Beda Red Lions defeated the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 62-60, in Game 1 of the NCAA Season 88 Finals Thursday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Sophomore point guard Baser Amer controlled the game for the Red Lions, winding up with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
"We played as a team lang talaga," Amer said.
The Knights came into the game with momentum, having defeated the twice-to-beat San Sebastian Stags in the semi-finals.
San Beda surged to a 17-7 lead in the opening quarter, but Letran tightened its defense in the second period to overtake the Lions with a slim 25-24 advantage at the half.
The Knights then widened the gap to 35-27 just before Amer sparked the Lions’ scorching 20-6 run for a 47-41 advantage going into the final quarter.
San Beda hiked their lead up to 8 points, but Letran strung together a couple of plays to come within striking distance, 53-50, five minutes to go.
After Arthur Dela Cruz’s basket, Jonathan Belorio connected from the three point area for Letran to make it 55-53.
A 7-4 exchange between the two teams saw San Beda leading 62-57 over a minute remaining.
Kevin Alas and Mark Cruz trimmed the Lions’ lead to two points, 62-60.
San Beda's Ola Adeogun missed a pair of free throws with 20 seconds to go that left the door open for a Letran comeback.
But Alas committed a crucial turnover that ended their hopes of winning Game 1.
Alas finished with 18 points, while Kevin Racal added 14 for Letran.
The Lions now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Finals, with Game 2 scheduled for October 20 at the Araneta Coliseum.