Letran holds off San SebastianBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
HIS father and coach, Louie Alas, sitting beside him, Letran guard Kevin Alas managed a wry smile when asked if he was happy with his new role as a sixth man.
“He has no choice, even if he reports me to his mom,” the older Alas joked.
The coach’s decision to put his star guard off the bench paid off as Kevin notched a career-high 31 points to propel Letran past San Sebastian, 80-74, last night at the start of the 88th NCAA collegiate basketball tournament at the jampacked Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot Alas had been a starter since his rookie year with the Knights three seasons ago, but with Letran boasting plenty of firepower this season, he was moved to the bench to start games.
“I’m happy with my role as long as we keep winning,” said Kevin Alas, who scored on a dazzling array of drives and three-pointers to set the tone for the Knights.
Facing the team that eliminated them in the Final Four last season, the Knights got some measure of revenge with a tenacious performance, serving notice that they are among the favorites this season.
“It was a total team effort defensively,” said Louie Alas. “We relaxed a little and lost our concentration, but our defense helped us recover.”
Kevin Alas poured 16 of his output in a frenetic first-half that saw both teams combine for 34 turnovers, before helping the Knights extend the lead to 46-31 early in the third period.
Later, John Lopez came through with 10 of his 20 points in the final period as Jose Rizal U nipped Mapua, 65-64.
Playing in his final year for JRU, Lopez nailed the free throw that turned out to be the marginal point with 35 seconds remaining.
The Cardinals unveiled a gem of a rookie in Andrew Estrella, a former Mapua high school standout who finished with 22 points, including the layup that tied the game with 42 seconds left.
LETRAN 80—Ke. Alas 31, Belorio 14, Cruz 10, Racal 9, Cortes 8, Almazan 6, Lituania 2, Luib 0 Gabawan 0, Pantin 0, Kr. Alas 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 74—Sangalang 24, Abueva 18, Balucanag 11, Dela Cruz 11, Antipuesto 4, Rebullos 2, Juico 2, Miranda 2, Binuya 0, Pascual 0, Maiquez 0.
Quarters: 14-13, 39-29, 50-53, 80-74
JRU 65—Lopez 20, Matute 16, Villarias 11, Monserat 5, Mabulac 4, Carampil 4, Camasura 3, dela Paz 2, Porter 0, Maconocido 0, Mendoza 0, Almario 0.
MAPUA 64—Estrella 22, Nimes 13, Ighalo 9, Chieb 7, Stevens 7, Parala 3, Banal 2, Abad 1, Layug 0, Cantos 0.
Quarters: 21-14, 36-39, 48-50, 65-64