Knights stun Stags to nail last NCAA Finals berthBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines—Letran reasserted its mastery of San Sebastian to eke out a 73-70 win Monday and barge into the NCAA Season 88 men’s basketball finals at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan city.
Mark Cruz notched his back-to-back 20-point game as Letran overcame San Sebastian’s twice-to-beat advantage to set up a much-awaited championship encounter with fierce rival San Beda.
“I knew I need to be a leader this time. I told them it’s all about your willingness to compete, it’s all about your willingness to win,” said Letran head coach Louie Alas.
Kevin Alas added 18 points after exploding for a career-high 43 points that forged a do-or-die game.
Overall, it was a total team effort for the Knights with different names stepping up at the most opportune time.
Jonathan Belorio and Jam Cortes made all of their free throws in the dwindling seconds of the game.
Cortes went perfect at the line that gave Letran a 73-70 edge with only 9.2 ticks left.
The last time San Beda and Letran met in the championship was in 2007 with the Red Lions taking the title.
Dexter Maiquez made a basket underneath that put the Stags up, 70-69, with 50.4 seconds remaining.
Calvin Abueva missed the potential game-tying triple as time expired. Abueva, the second overall pick by the Alaska Aces in the PBA, finished with 22 points and 21 rebounds.
Game 1 of the Ginals is set on Thursday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.