Coach Alas feeling the pressureBy Manolo R. Iñigo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LONGTIME Letran coach Louie Alas said in a recent interview that he is still feeling the pressure in the 88th edition of the NCAA basketball tournament.
Despite the Letran Knights’ rousing 80-74 victory over the highly favored San Sebastian Stags last Saturday at the full-house Smart Araneta Coliseum, Alas said, “It’s always this way that the host team has high expectation.”
Letran, the host of this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association season, banked on their stonewall defense and explosive offense to pound out the one-sided win over San Sebastian.
The Knights’ intact roster is backstopped by the coach’s son, Kevin, who missed several pre-season games due to injury.
In last Saturday’s opening game, Kevin scored 31 points even though he did not start. Teammates Jonathan Belorio, Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal, Jam Cortes and Raymond Almazan provided able support.
On the other hand, the Stags were led by last season’s MVP Calvin Abueva and big man Ian Sangalang.
“This is going to be a competitive season,” said Alas. “Even those teams at the bottom from last season have a good chance of pulling an upset.”
The game between the Jose Rizal U Heavy Bombers and the Mapua Cardinals completed the opening doubleheader which marked the kickoff of the country’s oldest collegiate league.
“Our game will be given primetime exposure this season and because of that I think the teams would really show their mettle,” said NCAA policy board president Rev. Fr. Tamerlane R. Lana, O.P., who is also the rector and president of Letran.
Defending champion San Beda is playing with a depleted lineup because nine of its players were suspended for their role in a melee during an NCAA women’s volleyball match at San Beda gym last December.
Also meted suspensions were coaches Frankie Lim and Roger Goraybe.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot Kevin, who has been a starter since his rookie year with the Knights three seasons ago, was moved to the bench to give younger players exposure.
“I’m happy with my role as long as we keep on winning,” said Kevin, who sizzled with an undergoal stab and three-pointers for Letran.
This year’s NCAA season got going with its new television partner AKTV on IBC 13, with games starting at 4 p.m. every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Other sports like volleyball, taekwondo, chess, tennis, and beach volleyball will also highlight this year’s 88th season of the NCAA.
Sports channel AKTV, which took over from ABS-CBN, and the NCAA policy board formalized their three-year partnership last August.
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I would like to congratulate athletic czar Go Teng Kok for closing his account with the Philippine Sports Commission with a clean hand. Unlike other NSA presidents, Mr. Go has completely settled his accounts with the PSC.
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