Knights thwart Stags; Lions up
Facing adversity for the first time this season, Letran showed steely resolve yesterday to keep its perfect record in the 91st NCAA basketball tournament.
The Knights used a flurry of triples in the final period to rally past the San Sebastian Stags, 92-86, and gain a share of the lead with the idle Perpetual Help Altas at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Mark Cruz exploded for a season-best 29 points, including a four-point play with 55.1 seconds remaining, as the Knights climbed out of a 13-point deficit in the fourth period to improve to 4-0.
Earlier, Art dela Cruz and Dan Sara delivered big games as San Beda returned to its winning ways by blasting Lyceum, 97-74.
With lead playmaker Baser Amer out due to an injury, Sara stepped up with 11 points, seven rebounds, six assists and six steals for the Red Lions, who improved to 3-1.
The Knights rolled to three wins behind their tough defense, but the Stags seemed to have them all figured out and grabbed a 66-53 lead in the last quarter behind Jamil Ortuoste, who shot 19 of his 25 points in the first half.
But Letran found an extra gear in the final period with Cruz and Rey Nambatac leading the charge. Trailing 68-73 with under three minutes remaining, Cruz drained a triple, before Jomarie Sollano scored on an undergoal stab to forge a deadlock.
After Ortuoste buried a triple on the other end, Cruz answered with a rare four-point play for the go-ahead basket, 77-76. It was Cruz’s fourth triple in the last period.
Nambatac knocked in Letran’s sixth triple in the final period to seal the win, 80-76. Dela Cruz posted his fourth double-double of the season with 22 points and 14 boards.
“We bounced back strong, that’s the most important thing,” said San Beda coach Jamike Jarin, whose team suffered an 80-93 loss to Letran last Thursday.
SAN BEDA 97—Dela Cruz 22, Tankoua 13, Koga 12, Sara 11, Adeogun 10, Tongco 9, Cabanag 8, Mocon 6, Solera 4, Bonsubre 2, Reyes 0, Presbiterio 0, Sedillo 0
LYCEUM 74—Mbida 13, Baltazar 12, Gabayni 11, Lugo 8, Bulawan 8, Ayaay 6, Taladua 4, Malabanan 3, Alanes 3, Soliman 2, Marata 2, Lacastesantos 2, Sunga 0 Quarters: 27-14, 42-33, 70-57, 97-74
LETRAN 82—Cruz 29, Nambatac 20, Sollano 13, Quinto 9, Racal 7, Luib 2, Publico 2, Apreku 0, Balanza 0, Balagasay 0 SAN SEBASTIAN 76—Ortuoste 25, Calisaan 16, Fabian 11, Costelo 10, David 6, Guinto 4, Capobres 2, Sibal 2, Santos 0, Pretta 0, Vera 0 Quarters: 27-23, 39-45, 52-62, 82-76
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