Knights move up to 3rd spotBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
DRAWING big games from its main men, Letran turned back Jose Rizal U, 70-59, last night to seize solo third and gain an inside track in the Final Four race of the 88th NCAA basketball tournament.
Kevin Alas tallied 17 points, including a huge triple inside the last two minutes that gave the Knights an eight-point cushion, aside from posting six rebounds, six assists and six steals.
Jam Cortes also sparkled with 14 points and 10 boards for the Knights, who erased a 10-point deficit in the third and improved to 10-6.
Emilio Aguinaldo College sustained its late-season charge with a 73-64 whipping of St. Benilde to keep its slim Final Four bid alive at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Already assured of their best win total since joining the league three seasons ago, the Generals drew strength from senior Franz Chiong, who notched a career-high 20 points built on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc in the second half.
“We know we have a very slim chance but more than anything else, we really want to improve,” said EAC coach Gerry Esplana. “Whatever happens in the next two games, we will just go all-out.”
Facing an already-eliminated team for the second straight game, the Generals poured it on in the second half, destroying the Blazers’ zone defense behind Chiong’s outside shooting to tally their seventh win against nine losses.
Playing in his last season for the Generals, Chiong also dished out six assists and grabbed six boards to complete a solid all-around effort.
The Generals also got a big lift from Cameroonian center Noube Happi, who posted 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
EAC 73—Chiong 20, Noube 14, Monteclaro 12, Paguia 8, Jamon 7, Morada 5, Tayongtong 4, Yaya 3, Sanchez 0.
ST. BENILDE 64—Grey 11, Deles 10, Taha 9, Romero 9, Bartolo 8, Tan 6, Carlos 5, Maconocido 4, Garcia 2, Sinco 0, Dela Paz 0.
Quarters: 19-13, 30-29, 51-44, 73-64
LETRAN 70—K. Alas 17, Cortes 16, Racal 14, Belorio 9, Almazan 8, Lituania 6, Cruz 0, Luib 0, J. Alas 0, Gabriel 0.
JRU 59—Villarias 20, Lopez 14, Dela Paz 10, Mendoza 4, Maconocido 3, Mabulac 2, Salaveria 2, Monserat 1, Matute 1, Camasura 0, Carampil 0.
Quarters: 16-20, 33-36, 53-48, 70-59