Knights overcome RK Ilagan, Stags to advance in NCAA stepladder semis
MANILA, Philippines — King Caralipio and Fran Yu delivered the insurance baskets as the Letran Knights lived another day after booting out the San Sebastian Stags, 85-80, on Tuesday night in the NCAA Season 95 men’s basketball semifinals at Cuneta Astrodome.
With the Stags pulling within a point and time winding down, Caralipio scored on the break before Yu sank his two free throws that sealed Letran’s win built strongly on its length and athleticism.
But credit should mainly go to Bonbon Batiller, who restrained the high-scoring Allyn Bulanadi for majority of the second half that told heavily on San Sebastian’s offensive ploy.
Bulanadi found no open look in the final half and muffed all of his five attempts in the closing quarter to finish with 15 points on five of 17 shooting.
Crafty point guard RK Ilagan covered for Bulanadi and erupted with a career-high 36 points, including a long three that cut the Letran lead within 81-80.
Graduating forward Jerrick Balanza led five other Knights in double figures with 15 points while Batiller, also playing on his final season, contributed 14, highlighted by back-to-back threes in the third that gave them a 14-point spread.
The Knights will advance to the next step of the stepladder semis against the second-ranked Lyceum Pirates on Friday where the winner meets the defending champion San Beda Red Lions in a best-of-three titular showdown.
In juniors action, Yukien Andrada completed a three-point play with 35.2 seconds remaining to lift the San Beda Red Cubs past the College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills Greenies, 82-79, in their semifinal playoff.
The Red Cubs will face either San Sebastian or Lyceum in a best-of-three championship. The Staglets remained in the hunt for a finals slot after defeating the twice-to-beat Junior Pirates, 84-75, in the other semis pairing.
LETRAN 85—Balanza 15, Batiller 14, Mina 12, Muyang 11, Ular 10, Yu 10, Caralipio 9, Balagasay 4, Ambohot 0, Olivario 0, Reyson 0, Sangalang 0, Javillonar 0.
SSC 80—Ilagan 36, Bulanadi 15, Villapando 8, Calahat 7, Capobres 5, Altamirano 5, Desoyo 2, Sumoda 1, Cosari 1, Calma 0, Isidro 0.
Quarters: 23-20, 50-40, 69-59, 85-80
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