Letran beats San Sebastian, 80-74, in NCAA 88 openerBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines — Kevin Alas had a career-night as host Letran hung on to beat San Sebastian, 80-74, Saturday night in the opening game of the NCAA Season 88 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Alas, who came off the bench, scored 31 points his best scoring game yet and grabbed five rebounds.
“I was too aggressive at first and I took a lot of forced shots but I was able to calm myself down,” said Alas in Filipino.
“It’s a team effort defensively,” said Letran head coach Louie Alas.
The Knights enjoyed a commanding 44-29 lead to start the third quarter but the Stags quickly responded and even took the lead, 53-50, heading into the fourth period.
“They [my players] enjoyed [the lead] too much,” said Alas.
San Sebastian went on a 20-3 run to reclaim the lead 49-47 on a Jovit dela Cruz baseline jumper.
“It’s a 40 minute game. You just have to show your poise,” said Alas during a much-needed huddle. “I wanted them to learn in that situation.”
Jonathan Belorio scored to put Letran back in front followed by three free throws by Alas.
Jam Cortes completed a three-point play off Calvin Abueva’s fourth foul to stretch the Knights’ lead to nine, 68-59, with 4:55 left.
Abueva eventually fouled out of the game with still 2:09 remaining in the game. He came alive in the second half and finished with 18 points, 17 rebounds and six assists.
San Sebastian pulled to within striking distance before several free throws by Mark Cruz sealed the win for Letran.
Ian Sangalang also had a double-double of 24 points and 14 rebounds. The Stags though didn’t get anything from their returning swingman Ronald Pascual.
Pascual, who played his first game back since suffering from an ACL injury, was far from his old lethal form. He fouled out with still nine minutes left in the final quarter and did not score (0-of-8 FG) in 22 minutes.