JERRICK Balanza wouldn't be denied this time, leading Letran to an 81-72 conquest of Arellano for its breakthrough win in the NCAA Season 95 seniors basketball tournament Friday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The senior swingman went unconscious in the clutch, unleashing 13 points in the Knights' telling 15-3 assault that turned a close 64-all deadlock to a comfortable 79-67 lead with 2:21 to play.
Balanza collected a career-high 31 points, three rebounds, and two assists as he made sure to get the victory for Letran this time, making up for its opening-day defeat to Lyceum.
"We had him off the bench para may bala pa tayo sa fourth at may energy tayo to finish the game," said coach Bonnie Tan as he resisted starting his team captain for the game. "Sana nalinawan si Jerrick kung bakit siya nag-off the bench. He's an experienced player and he knows how to adjust."
Jeo Ambohot registered 15 points and 11 boards, Renato Ular added eight points and seven rebounds, and King Caralipio added eight in the win.
"Everyone stepped up sa second half. We are just happy to win this game kasi yung first game pinakamahirap kunin," added Tan.
Rence Alcoriza topscored for the Chiefs with 19 points and four rebounds, while Justin Arana got 12 points, five blocks, three boards, and three assists in the loss.
Kent Salado was held to just nine points, seven rebounds, five assists, and two steals as Arellano bowed to its second straight defeat.
LETRAN 81 -- Balanza 31, Ambohot 15, Ular 8, Caralipio 8, Mina 6, Muyang 5, Olivario 2, Javillonar 2, Sangalang 2, Reyson 2, Yu 0, Batiller 0, Balagasay 0.
ARELLANO 72 -- Alcoriza 19, Arana 12, Gayosa 11, Salado 9, Sablan 8, Talampas 6, Concepcion 4, Bayla 3, Espiritu 0, De Guzman 0, Santos 0.
Quarters: 23-16, 36-40, 60-59, 81-72.