Jacob Cortez announced through a social media post on January 11, 2024, his departure from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and ultimately from Coach Yuri Escueta’s San Beda Red Lions where he just recently won an NCAA championship.

Jacob formalized the rumors about him leaving Mendiola. He even gave a brief explanation of his transfer to another collegiate league, followed by words of gratitude for the entire Bedan community.

Before the basketball community witnesses him play his A-game in another uniform, here’s a quick breakdown of his Season 99 performance, and why his “King Lion" moniker, as bestowed upon him by fans and aficionados, is well-deserved.



15.39ppg, 3.6rpg, 3.7apg, 1.2spg, 2.4 threes per game

NCAA Season 99 was fruitful for Jacob Cortez, to say the least. He played the most number of elimination round and playoff games for Coach Yuri Escueta, and was a starter in each one. 

During that 23-game span, he led the team in points, assists, and steals. His plus-minus of 133 was also second to none - miles away from Yukien Andrada’s 89 in second place. His rebounding output of 3.6 a game was the best among all Bedan guards. 

He was second-best in the league in terms of threes made with 2.4 per contest on a decently efficient 34.4%, a percentage that’s good for seventh overall. 

This points to the net significance of a Jacob Cortez on the floor for the Red Lions. He was a tremendous scorer, excellent facilitator, and he performed adequately on defense. This is proof beyond reasonable doubt that he was extremely beneficial to the Mendiola-based squad, further reflected by his team-leading 29.3 minutes of playing time on average.



Averages against LPU (Final Four): 17.5ppg 3.5rpg 5apg 2spg

Averages against Mapua (Finals): 14ppg 4.2rpg 4apg

The Red Lions ended the elimination round with a 12-6 record, good for third overall. Disadvantaged against a twice-to-beat LPU Pirates led by Mythical Team member Enoch Valdez, the Pirates were energized to take down the lower-seeded squad from Mendiola. 

But in dominant fashion, SBU got the best of the matchup and defeated LPU, 89-68 and 82-72, to book a seat in the finals. The first game during this quick pre-finals detour saw Jacob explode for 28 points and eight assists, together with four rebounds while shooting at a near-perfect clip of 82%. All that in only 28 minutes of play.

Enter San Beda’s best-of-three Finals dance with top-seed rival, the Mapua Cardinals. The latter were the fresher team, as Coach Yuri and the Red Lions had to go to war against the gritty LPU Pirates twice. 

Lo and behold, it was a dismal Game 1 for Jacob (17.6% shooting, 3/17 from the field) and the Red Lions who, once again, would see themselves in a familiar do-or-die, win-twice-to-stay-alive situation after falling in the Finals’ opening salvo, 68-63.

But Jacob won’t just go gentle into that good night. The departing San Beda guard managed to turn things around with a 21-point, nine-rebound outing in Game 2 to steer his squad to a series-equalizing victory. He topped that off with three assists and two steals. 

The rest was history for the eventual Champions of Season 99, but for everyone’s reference, Jacob scored a near double-double of eight points and eight assists in Game 3 to help Yukien Andrada and Finals MVP James Payosing claim their 23rd title.



It appears, therefore, that in those times when the Red Lions were in the jaws of death and badly needed a win to stay alive, it’s Jacob Cortez’ heroics that saved them. Undeniably, his performance in Season 99 is deserving of all the praises and commendation he has been receiving, all backed up by statistics.  

It may be unfortunate that the NCAA and the San Beda basketball program will be losing a superstar in Jacob Cortez, but every chapter closed is always the beginning of another. As for Jacob, he is content with his three-year stint as a Red Lion and an NCAA Champ.

“I have had THE BEST time at San Beda. From playing as a rookie fresh out of high school in an isolating yet invigorating bubble season to helping bring back the crown where it belongs after many have counted San Beda out. ” he wrote.