HISTORY HAS BEEN made as the Team B of the San Beda Red Lions took home the trophy of Pinoyliga Next Man Cup after a long-fought battle with the Lyceum of the Philippines University (LPU) Pirates last March 5 at the Activate Hoop Arena.

The Mendiola squad bagged the gold after a two-point lead of 77-75 courtesy of Jomel Puno and Clifford Jopia. Accordingly, Jopia was hailed as the season’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), while the team’s head coach, Coach Andre Santos, was named as the Best Coach of the season. 

It was also a momentous night for the squad as it was their first collegiate Pinoyliga Championship, after failing to move past the semi-finals in their season debut last year. 

Coach Andre shared that there were no “specific gameplays” during the game. Instead, he explained that the team had put more emphasis on following the system of how they played while on the court as a group.  

However, while the team’s focus was cooperation and coordination, there was still a gap among its members in their training. “They didn’t get to practice a lot together ‘cause yung Pinoy Liga team, it’s a mix of Team A and Team B players so di sila nakakatrain together that much,” Coach Andre explained. Despite this major challenge, the Team B still secured the championship in the tournament.  

Furthermore, Finals’ MVP, Jopia has served his team with 17 points and 12 rebounds with one steal and two blocks while shooting 80% from the field. “Sa Pinoy Liga, it really showed yung improvement ni Jopia,” Coach Andre shared.  

Jopia had already played in the previous teams representing San Beda University (SBU) the past two seasons before Pinoyliga. “We still wanted to put him sa Pinoy Liga League and we still like him up there because we wanted him to get confidence, give him more games,” Coach Andre mentioned. 

 The team now has set its sights on the next Pinoy Liga and other pre-season tournaments. 

On the other hand, Red Lions team B point guard and shooting guard, Jacob Cortez acknowledged the team’s recent victory as one of their most successful seasons in sports. According to Cortez, they were able to build chemistry as a team for the season and for the incoming National Collegiate Athletics Association Season 99 (NCAA). 

Cortez also revealed that the team did not follow the usual approach at the beginning of the season which gave them some difficulties, but they eventually resolved their complications during the time of their practice. 

As for their expectations for the team, Cortez replied, “We expect to be better of course next season because we want to be better every day and hopefully, we can defend our championships dun sa Pinoy-cup.” 

With their constant training for future tournaments, Coach Santos asks for the continuous support of the Bedan community in the upcoming matches just as they had done for the previous ones.  

(with Jannine Salinas and Veronica Balbin)

Photo courtesy of San Beda Red Lions