Knights, Stags dispute 2nd NCAA finals berthBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
NOW ON equal footing with San Sebastian, Letran coach Louie Alas can only hope his Knights will continue to assert their dominance of the Stags.
The Knights face the Stags for the second finals berth tonight in the 88th NCAA basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Arena with Letran oozing with confidence after beating San Sebastian for the third straight time last Saturday.
The winner will face defending champion San Beda in the best-of-three finals starting Thursday. The top seed Lions advanced after trouncing Perpetual Help, 56-52.
“It’s all about consistency now and the willingness to win,” said Alas.
The Knights banked on a strong start to pummel the Stags, 92-74, at Smart Araneta Coliseum and forge a rubber match.
In what could go down as the finest individual performances in Final Four history, Kevin Alas shot 43 points, built on 10-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc, as the Knights nullified the Stags’ twice-to-beat advantage as No. 2 in the eliminations.
Dominant on both ends of the floor, the Knights led by as many as 23 points before the Stags came within 12 in the final period only for Alas to seal the win with back-to-back treys.
In the aftermath of a rough-and-tumble second half, Kristoffer Alas of Letran and AJ Vitug of San Sebastian have been slapped with one-game suspensions. Alas punched Michael Miranda in the final minute of the game while Vitug elbowed Carlo Lituania.
The Stags welcome Ronald Pascual, their lone legitimate outside threat, back into the lineup after the gunner sat out the first match due to suspension.
“He will be a problem for us,” said coach Alas of Pascual, who has made a team-best 48 three-pointers this season. “We need to extend our defense when he’s there.”
Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang also struggled in Game 1 but coach Alas is bracing for a strong fightback from the Stags frontline duo.