Defending champs ready for underdog role anew
EVEN after snapping a 10-year title drought last season, Letran doesn’t seem to strike fear the same way a resurgent Arellano and former champion San Beda have on the rest of the NCAA Season 92 field.
And that has given the Knights one more motivation as they shoot for back-to-back crowns when the senior’s basketball tournament gets going Saturday at SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Defying tough odds against a San Beda team gunning for a sixth straight title last year, the Knights bagged their first crown since 2005 after stunning the Red Lions, 2-1, in an epic best-of-three series.
“We’re used to it already,” said Letran skipper Rey Nambatac of the Knights’ underdog status. “Last year, it was even tougher against San Beda, but we used it as a motivation.”
The Knights immediately face a stern test with a rematch against the Lions at 2 p.m. on opening-day, before last season’s losing semifinalists, Jose Rizal U and Mapua, clash in the other game.
Forced to undergo transition after the sudden departure of coach Aldin Ayo to La Salle and the graduation of Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz, the Knights hired former NU juniors champion coach Jeff Napa.
“We’ll just take it one game at a time this season,” said Napa, who still has McJour Luib, Felix Apreku and Jom Sollano in the lineup. “We’re targeting the Final Four and hopefully take it from there.”