Reyson rescues Knights from Bombers threat
The Letran Knights don’t look as mighty as they once were despite coming off a perfect championship season.
There won’t be a versatile Rhenz Abando ready to salvage the Knights from trouble and a stretch five in Jeo Ambohot who can efficiently patrol the lanes.
But they still have guys like shooting guard Kurt Reyson, who was able to rescue the defending champions on Wednesday for a scrambling 101-97 overtime win against the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
“Our objective is just to win as many games as possible and hopefully reach the semifinals. With half of the team composed of rookie players, we’ll definitely have a lot of struggles and challenges,’’ said Letran coach Bonnie Tan.
Reyson torched the hoops with a season-high 31 points, including a game-tying three that forced the extension when the Knights were already on the ropes.
“It’s time for him to step up. He got overshadowed by our veteran guards the previous seasons,’’ said Tan.
“We are confident on Kurt’s ability. You can see him trying to perfect that kind of shot during practice,’’ said Fran Yu, Reyson’s backcourt partner.
Without their key players last season, the Knights visibly groped for form with holdovers Louie Sangalang, Brent Paraiso, King Caralipio along with Yu and Reyson combining to pull Letran through.
“It’s pure heart and luck. I was really surprised when league analysts picked us as a Final Four contender, probably because of those who remained with the team, so I told my veteran players not to disappoint those who still believe,’’ said Tan.
“To be honest, we’re just happy with the win because we came to this game blindfolded. We honestly don’t know how we could win,’’ added Tan.
John Barba had 16 points and Mclaude Guadana added 13 as Lyceum pulled off its first victory of the season with a stunning 76-67 demolition of title contender Mapua in the other game.
The Pirates learned a lot from their recent defeat against the College of St. Benilde Blazers and shoved the Cardinals down a hole that last year’s season finalists could not crawl out of in the game. Both now share a 1-1 record with the Arellano Chiefs and the San Beda Lions.
The Bombers, who absorbed another tough loss following a heartbreaking season opener against the Perpetual Help Altas, looked like they had victory in the bag after taking a three-point lead with 16.7 seconds left in regulation. But Reyson turned things around for Letran, leaving JRU in tatters
But the Bombers’ current skid might be deceiving. The team has comebacking players John Amores, Agen Miranda and Ry dela Rosa, who pooled together 51 points built on threes and penetrations.
Perhaps, the only drawback for the Bombers was their inability to finish off the Knights, who struggled to look like the team that has won the last two NCAA crowns.
“This is a long season. We’ve lost our key players, but the hunger factor is still there,’’ said Yu of his Letran squad.