‘Motivated’ Knights run Pirates aground in NCAA skirmish
MANILA, Philippines – With everything lost but their pride, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights laid down the Law of Chivalry against the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates, 77-52, in their NCAA encounter at the Arena in San Juan Friday afternoon.
Both teams are out of contention for a Final Four slot with only five teams – San Beda, College of Saint Benilde, Arellano University, University of Perpetual Help and Jose Rizal University – competing for spots in the step ladder playoffs.
Playing without suspended head coach Caloy Garcia and injured team captain Kevin Racal, the Knights were motivated to get a decent finish in an otherwise dismal season.
Assistant Coach Mike Buendia said that they wanted to finish with a respectable 9-9 record.
“My motivation for them was to finish the season strong, 9-9 is still a respectable record,” Buendia said whose team now has an 8-9 record and a sixth seed.
“We want to dedicate this game for coach Caloy and Kevin.”
Without their star forward, Letran relied on the cavalry duo of Mark Cruz and Ford Ruaya.
Ruaya, a graduating Knight, led Letran with 19 points while gobbling up seven boards, while Cruz added 13 points.
Letran stymied Lyceum with their defense, holding down the Pirates to 17 points in the third quarter while they ran rampant with 26 points.
With their defense in check, the Knights surged to a 13-4 run throughout the latter part of the third period with Ruaya giving them a 17-point 58-41 lead.
Letran’s hot shooting continued to the fourth with a 13-3 run to begin the final quarter with Cruz and Jamil Gabawan hitting back-to-back baseline jumpers to put the boards at 71-46.
Buendia said that they wanted to send their graduating Knights, Ruaya and Gabawan, in a high note and never give up in their last game against the College of St. Benilde Blazers.
“We won’t give up, we want to win against Benilde,” Buendia said. “And also give a proper send-off for Ford and Jamil.”
Pirates big man Joseph Gabayni led Lyceum with a 17-point 12-rebound double-double with Jeremiah Taladua adding 14 points, Lyceum is now at a 6-11 slate for seventh seed.