Letran ends long drought in NCAA high school basketball
Twenty years have passed since Letran had won the NCAA high school basketball championship. And 40 years had flown by since the school took the boys’ and mens’ basketball crown on the same year.
The count is back to zero.
The Squires bagged the crown with a 77-61 rout of St. Benilde-La Salle Greenhills on Thursday, turning to their reserve core to get the job done at San Andres Sports Complex.
Jovel Baliling and Jonathan Manalili came off the bench to provide the spark for Letran, which also got its usual dose of brilliance from Andy Gemao, who was named Finals Most Valuable Player.
Letran’s last high school crown came in 2001, when the Squires were led by former Philippine Basketball Association standout Jay-Ar Reyes. With the men’s team fashioning a “three-peat” earlier in the season, the Muralla-based school scored a basketball double for the first time since 1983.
Baliling led the Squires with 19 points, four rebounds and two assists while Manalili added 16 points, eight boards, seven assists and two blocks in the victory.
Gemao, the 16-year-old prized find, had 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals for Letran and was named the best player of the championship series with his steady averages of 17.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
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