Knights turn back Pirates
Dragged into a tight contest by a surprisingly tough and physical Lyceum squad, Letran delivered a strong finishing kick Tuesday to keep its perfect record in the 91st NCAA basketball tournament.
Growing in confidence, the Knights countered every spurt by the Pirates in a thrilling fourth period and escaped with a gutsy 83-78 victory—their seventh straight—at Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
READ: NCAA: Letran escapes Lyceum for 7-0 start
Kevin Racal finished with 19 points, including a key triple late in the game, to match Rey Nambatac’s output, but it was Jomari Sollano and Bong Quinto’s clutch plays that helped the Knights hurdle their toughest test yet.
Sollano and Quinto combined for 15 of their team’s 26 points in the final period as the Knights flashed their impressive firepower each time the Pirates threatened.
It wasn’t smooth sailing though for the Knights as Mark Cruz had to leave the game after he was accidentally hit by Joseph Gabayni in the nose late in the first period.
With the Knights struggling to get going offensively, Cruz was inserted back into the game in the fourth period.
“This is the most uncomfortable game that we had because our rotation was in disarray because of Mark’s injury,” said Letran coach Aldin Ayo, whose team matched the explosive start of another Letran team two seasons ago.
READ: NCAA: Grey leads St. Benilde past San Sebastian for 2nd win
Cameroonian center Jean Nguidjol poured eight of his 22 points in the fourth period, including a layup with 48 seconds left, as Lyceum threatened last at 78-82.
Earlier, St. Benilde leaned on a career-best 29-point performance from Jonathan Grey as the Blazers snapped a three-game slide by overpowering the San Sebastian Stags, 88-66.
ST. BENILDE 88—Grey 29, Saavedra 20, Fajarito 11, Deles 9, Young 8, S. Domingo 5, Flores 4, Sta. Maria 2, Jonson 0, Nayve 0, Ongteco 0, J. Domingo 0, Castor 0, Dixon 0.
SAN SEBASTIAN 66—Guinto 16, Ortuoste 13, Calisaan 10, Fabian 7, Pretta 5, Bulanadi 5, Santos 3, Capobres 3, Costelo 2, David 2, Sibal 0, Bragais 0, Alvarez 0, Mercado 0.
Quarters: 20-15, 43-30, 68-49, 88-66
LETRAN 83—Nambatac 19, Racal 19, Sollano 11, Quinto 9, Calvo 7, Luib 6, Cruz 5, Balanza 3, Balagasay 2, Publico 2, Apreku 0, Bernabe 0.
LYCEUM 78—Nguidjol 22, Ayaay 14, Sunga 11, Gabayni 9, Baltazar 6, Bulawan 4, Alanes 3, Mbida 3, Soliman 2, Lacastesantos 2, Lugo 2, Malabanan 0, Taladua 0.
Quarters: 19-12, 34-35, 57-55, 83-78
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