Letran wins third straight NCAA title, routs Benilde
ANTIPOLO—Letran claimed its third consecutive championship after rolling past College of St. Benilde, 81-67, in Game 3 of the NCAA Season 98 men’s basketball Finals on Saturday at Ynares Center here.
The Knights captured the league’s first three-peat since 2018 when the San Beda Red Lions completed the feat in Season 94.
King Caralipio led Letran with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds—a performance that earned him the Finals MVP plum.
“With King, even before, when he started with us, he was limited. But he persevered. We know what he gives in the court due to hard work. There’s no misfortunes with hard work,” said Letran coach Bonnie Tan.
Brent Paraiso added 16 points while Kobe Monje was a spark for the Knights with 11 points in his return from a one-game suspension.
Season MVP Will Gozum got tossed in the fourth quarter after a disqualifying foul, tallying only 10 points and two rebounds.
Letran blew the game open in the second quarter with a 19-5 run to take a 43-26 lead after a layup by Monje at the 4:24 mark.
A 6-0 spurt ignited by Miggy Corteza momentarily gave Benilde some hope but the Blazers’ comeback bid took a huge blow following Gozum’s ejection.
Letran, which missed the services of star guard Fran Yu due to suspension, also overcame the absence of Louie Sangalang down the stretch. Sangalang committed his fifth and final foul with still 3:21 remaining. He finished with eight points, four rebounds and a block.
Corteza paced the Blazers, who failed to end their 20-year title drought, with 14 points and seven rebounds.
LETRAN 81 — Caralipio 20, Paraiso 16, Monje 11, Reyson 8, Sangalang 8, Santos 7, Olivario 4, Go 4, Guarino 2, Javillonar 1, Tolentino 0, Bojorcelo 0.
CSB 67 — Corteza 14, Pasturan 10, Gozum 10, Oczon 9, Sangco 6, Nayve 6, Flores 5, Marcos 3, Cullar 2, Carlos 2, Davis 0.
Quarters: 24-21, 51-33, 70-54, 81-67.