MANILA – San Beda takes the finals opener in the 86th National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball Wednesday as it nears a historic 18-game sweep by routing San Sebastian, 93-73, at the Araneta Coliseum.

Skipper Borgie Hermida sparked the Lions’ third quarter rally by breaking the game’s eighth and last deadlock, 58-all, to a five point cushion, 63-58, while the triumvirate of Jake Pascual, Garvo Lanete and Anjo Caram pushed the lead to 12 points.

From there, San Beda kept its hold of the leather as the Stags fell down to their knees and failed to rein in the full-court press of their proud foes.

“I’m very happy for the boys. They executed good defense and followed the game plans. I think the end of third spelled the difference and it all boils down to in stopping people. I give the credit to the players,” said mentor Frankie Lim.

Lim is eyeing the school’s 15th overall crown in the country’s oldest collegiate league.

Hermida provided the needed leadership for the rampaging Lions, who posted a remarkable 18 point-haul coupled with 11 boards, four assists and three steals.

“That guy is tough. He’s tough,” said Lim of his prized guard who is set to join the Barako Red Bull at the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in the next few days.

American behemoth Sudan Daniel, the season’s most valuable player, scattered 15 points and 10 caroms in 26 minutes of play while rookie Filipino-Australian Anthony Semerad had 12 points and three assists.

“Sudan played well but I think Anthony Semerad got the big shots for us,” said Lim.

San Beda holds a thrice-to-beat advantage over San Sebastian after making a 16-game sweep of the elimination round.

Calvin “The Beast” Abueva led the losing effort of the Stags with 22 points and 12 boards while departing team captain John “Pamboy” Raymundo contributed 15 points and five rebounds.

“We played well in the first two quarters. The players just lost firepower. We have to double our efforts if we want to bounce back and extend the series,” said coach Ato Agustin.

San Beda will try to go for the clincher on Friday but Lim expects a bumpy and more physical duel this time.

“We’ll take it one game at a time if we’ll get it on Friday, well and good. I have planned out something that they have never seen before. We’ll focus in winning the championship by not hurting people,” said Lim. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)