With that nightmarish ending in mind, Hermida came up with the perfect payback Wednesday night, leading the Red Lions to a 93-73 rout of the San Sebastian Stags at the start of the finals at the Araneta Coliseum.
The convincing win, fashioned out before 11,018 fans, put the Lions, who own a thrice-to-beat edge in the finals, on the brink of a perfect season and a 15th crown.
Game 2 is set Friday also at the Big Dome. The series ends when San Beda wins two games or San Sebastian strings three.
“I thought about that loss last year and it was my motivation in this game,” said Hermida. “But I didn’t want to hurt them physically (Stags). I just wanted to play my game.”
The 5-foot-8 Hermida did hurt the Stags in different ways, finishing with 18 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three steals in a solid all-around effort that drew raves from his coach Frankie Lim.
“Borgie is just tough,” said Lim of his starting point guard. “Sometimes I have to tell him to slow down.”
San Beda also moved on the threshold of the juniors crown as MVP Baser Amer tallied 14 points, 18 assists and nine rebounds in carrying the Cubs past the Staglets, 89-64, in the first game.
Playing in his final season for the Lions, Hermida sparked a 14-2 run to end the third period and the Lions, with their menacing defense, coasted from there.
San Sebastian failed to hit a single field goal in the first five and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, allowing the Lions to pull away, 87-66, on Hermida’s fastbreak layup.
“We played excellent basketball,” said Lim. “We followed the game plan. We were patient on defense. It all boiled down to making stops and we were able to do that.”
San Beda center Sudan Daniel, who will be awarded the MVP trophy before Game 2 tomorrow, finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Garvo Lanete tallied 17 points and four assists.
Behind MVP derby runner-up Calvin Abueva, who shot 14 of his 22 points in the first half, the Stags rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit to forge a 58-all deadlock with 3:38 remaining in the third, before the Lions went on that decisive tear.
“We lost control of the game in the third quarter,” said San Sebastian coach Ato Agustin. “We just didn’t have enough manpower to match up with them.”
Rookie Anthony Semerad also delivered for the Lions, contributing 12 points, including seven straight bridging the last minute of the third and the first two minutes of the final period.
Lim is confident that the Lions can close it out tomorrow.
“I trust my players,” he said. “I think they can do it.” Photo by Jan Dizon, NCAA.org.ph
First Game (jrs)
SAN BEDA 89—Chavez 21, Abatayo 14, Amer 14, Javier 13, Da. Nazareno 13, Do. Nazareno 5, Gotladera 5, Abarcar 4, Colmenar 2, Bonsubre 0, Malapitan 0, Manalo 0, Miranda 0, Munsayac 0, Babilonia 0
SAN SEBASTIAN 64—Juamo-as 31, Magno 19, Vitug 5, Leyva 3, Gianan 3, Vergara 2, Pante 1, Escalambre 0, Balid 0, Macasaet 0, Pascual 0, Santos 0, Sapalo 0, Velasco 0, Soriano 0
Quarters; 27-11, 51-32, 75-54, 89-64
Second Game (srs)
SAN BEDA 93—Hermida 18, Lanete 17, Daniel 15, dela Rosa 13, A. Semerad 12, J. Pascual 6, Caram 4, Marcelo 4, K. Pascual 4, Mendoza 0, D. Semerad 0
SAN SEBASTIAN 73—Abueva 22, Raymundo 15, Pascual 12, Bulawan 9, Semira 6, Sangalang 4, Najorda 3, del Rio 2, Gatchalina 0, Gorospe 0
Quarters: 26-23, 44-40, 72-60, 93-73