NCAA: Deo Cuajao a bright spot in Letran opening loss to JRU
MANILA, Philippines—Letran coach Rensy Bajar found a silver lining in the Knights’ opening loss to Jose Rizal University in the NCAA Season 99 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday.
With Kurt Reyson, who’s expected to lead Letran this season, struggling, Cuajao picked up the slack with 12 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Cuajao also sent the game into OT, draining a triple to tie the game at 73 with 3.2 ticks to go in regulation but only for the Knights to falter in the extra session as the Heavy Bombers held on for an 85-79 victory at Mall of Asia Arena.
“Kurt couldn’t get his timing and Deo was playing well so I really gave him a chance because JRU’s concentration on defense was on Kurt,” said Bajar in Filipino at Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.
Reyson still led Letran in scoring with 18 points on top of six rebounds and four assists but went just 3-of-14 from the field and turned the ball over seven times.
Reyson’s woes paved the way for Cuajao to step up.
“I just stayed ready with the confidence that coach gave me because Kurt really didn’t play well so I had to step up to fill that void,” said Cuajao.
Bajar is expecting more from the former University of Santo Tomas standout.
“With Deo, he’s really part of the rotation but it’s still not enough.”
“His hesitation is still there so I need to address that with him because, again, he’s part of the rotation so it’s his obligation to show up.”
Cuajao, who also got the starting nod in his first NCAA game, sank four triples in his debut.
The Knights try to bounce back on Wednesday against Lyceum, which beat College of St. Benilde, 85-81.