LETRAN claimed its first victory in the Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup, beating University of Sto. Tomas, 89-81, on Wednesday in San Juan.
The Knights played without injured top gunner Rey Nambatac but still eked out the win after losing a 13-point lead in regulation.
Letran scored five straight points to start overtime on its way to victory, their first after starting the tournament with four losses.
“Credit to the boys. ‘Yung character ng team, unti unti ng lumalabas kahit na we are nursing injuries,” said Letran coach Jeff Napa.
The Knights were ahead, 72-59, before the Growling Tigers made a big comeback. Marvin Lee sank a triple with 59.4 seconds to play to give UST the lead, 75-74, but Letran answered with Jerick Balanza splitting his two free throws to force a deadlock with 8.7 seconds to play in the fourth.
Balanza had 24 points, while Bong Quinto added 20 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
JP Calvo had 10 points, five rebounds, and eight assists for the Knights including two free throws that sealed the win.
Nambatac is out for the rest of Letran’s preseason schedule due to a hyperextended knee but is expected to return in time for the NCAA basketball tournament.
Steve Akomo contributed 23 points, 15 rebounds, and four blocks, while Christian Garcia added 17 points for the Tigers, at the bottom of Group A with a 1-5 slate.
Letran 89 —Balanza 24, Quinto 20, Calvo 10, Vacaro 10, Ambohot 9, Taladua 8, Caralipio 4, Balagasay 2, Bernabe 2, Pamulaklakin 0, Gedaria 0, Pascual 0, Mandreza 0.
UST 81 — Akomo 23, Garcia 17, Lee 16, Huang 9, Sta. Ana 7, Basibas 4, Caunan 4, Escalambre 1, De Guzman 0, Faundo 0, Macasaet 0, Lorenzana 0.
Quarterscores: 23-22; 35-33; 64-51; 75-75; 89-81.