Letran, San Beda ditch foes and seize share of early lead
They battled for the crown the last time the NCAA held a basketball tournament. It seems that defending champion Letran and fierce rival San Beda are at it again.
The two teams steeped in championship tradition, with a combined 40 titles between them, crowded each other at the top of the standings after separate victories on Wednesday at La Salle Greenhills Gym and looked every inch the favorites in Season 97’s men’s basketball competitions.
The Knights slashed their way past the Arellano Chiefs, 96-67, in a game which saw big man Jeo Ambohot explode for 20 points and plug Letran firmly into the role as the team to beat this year.
Just don’t tell that to coach Bonnie Tan, who thinks teams have made up a lot of ground since the Knights ruled the league.
“We were the champions, but that was two years ago already,” he said after the game. “It’s a different season now, we have to work harder if we want to defend [the crown].”
Especially with a hungry pride lurking around.
The Red Lions leaned on its second stringers JV Gallego and Filipino-Canadian James Kwekuteye to hold off the stubborn Emilio Aguinaldo Generals, 85-81.
“We didn’t take them lightly because based on their game against Mapua, they are a dangerous team,” said San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez.
The Lions, overwhelming favorites, could not cut loose from the Generals until in the early third quarter when Kwekuteye began to shake things up.
The Knights and the Red Lions will eventually cross paths on April 12.
The 6-foot-7 Ambohot, a holdover center from the champions Knights squad, also had eight rebounds and three assists during his breakout game, as the Knights afforded to shuffle their roster against the crippled Chiefs.
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