NCAA: Letran stresses composure as it moves closer to juniors’ basketball crown
MANILA, Philippines—Letran moved a step closer to winning the NCAA Season 98 juniors’ basketball tournament championship but coach Allen Ricardo knows there is still no room for complacency.
The Squires took Game 1 of the Finals against College of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills, 85-81, at San Andres Complex on Monday to inch closer to breaking the 22-year title drought in the juniors’ basketball division.
But Ricardo reiterated the need for composure despite the momentous advantage.
“Just stay composed. That’s the most important thing. In this championship series, they experienced Game 1 but after our viewing, they’ll realize what went wrong, what went right and what went good. Going into Game 2, they just have to stay composed, that’s it,” said the rookie coach.
Composure was indeed key in the Squires’ first game win of the Finals, not panicking even when St. Benilde standout Luis Pablo handed in a monster performance to the tune of 22 points, 19 rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
With the score tied at 72-all, Letran went on a game-defining 13-4 rally sparked by an Andy Gemao fastbreak jam to gain an insurmountable 85-76 advantage.
The Squires also waxed hot from beyond the arc in the final quarter with four triples out of seven tries to bury the Greenies in a twice-to-win situation.
Gemao led the Squires with a double-double of his own with 21 points and 14 rebounds but it was June Silorio’s career-high 27 markers that further propelled Letran for the 1-0 lead.
Benilde’s Rod Alian had a commendable showing with 14 markers and seven boards but to no avail.
The Squires and Greenies go at it once more on Thursday to determine if Letran would take home the juniors’ crown play in a Game 3.