NCAA: Rhenz Abando leads Letran over CSB in opener
MANILA, Philippines—Letran displayed an endgame hustle worthy of a defending champion to turn back St. Benilde, 67-63, Saturday at the start of the NCAA men’s basketball at La Salle Greenhills Gym
The Knights put their money on flashy new recruit Rhenz Abando and it paid handsome dividends as the former University of Santo Tomas standout touched off a decisive late binge.
Abando fired a three-pointer to give the Knights their first taste of the lead, 60-59, four minutes left.
Letran’s Mark Javillonar and Louie Sanggalang followed the lead to preserve the lead and ensure the Knights start their title-retention campaign on a high note.
The league’s first face-to-face match after two years rolled in an disorderly yet amusing start as both teams tried to shake off the rust of months in lockdown and wake up to the reality of an actual game.
It took almost three minutes before anybody could make a basket, with Will Gozum sinking a layup for the Blazers.
Abando came up with the next points, hitting for the Knights almost two minutes later, 5:08 left in the first period.
Yet despite the absence of big names in St. Benilde’s roster, the host managed to take control of the first half, leading by as much as 32-20 on a three-pointer by point guard Robi Nayve, 3:40 left in the second quarter.
Letran seemed to have gained its stride in the third after tying the game at 41on Jeo Ambohot free throw.
But St. Benilde dished out a run of its own anchored on Alfonso Benson and Ray Carlos to widen the gap, 51-43, late in the period.