LETRAN outlasted San Sebastian in overtime, 79-75, in a hotly contested game as the Knights extended their win streak to four in the NCAA Season 93 men’s basketball tournament on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Center.
Heroes came aplenty for the Knights who improved to 5-3 and bucked the exit of rising big man Jeo Ambohot in the third quarter after landing on his wrist following a hard fall.
Rey Nambatac led the Knights with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but it was a total team effort anew for the Knights, after seeing big plays from JP Calvo in overtime and getting significant contributions from seldom-used players in Alex Mandreza and King Caralipio.
Calvo's two free throws put Letran ahead for good, 77-75, with a minute and 20 seconds to go.
His biggest contribution, however, came on the defensive end when he read the Stags' backdoor play off the inbound to complete the biggest defensive stop of the night.
Balanza nailed the insurance free throws to shut the door on the Stags.
"All credit ulit sa mga boys. Yung character kasi, doon lumabas. When Jeo was out, everybody stood up and nag-step up para punan ang pagkawala niya," said Letran head coach Jeff Napa.
"Siyempre yung leadership ng mga beterano at yung attitude ng mga bata na hindi basta-basta magpapatalo, whatever happens, whatever the outcome ibibigay pa rin nila ang best nila," he added.
The Stags had the perfect chance to steal the game at regulation after back-to-back threes from Lorenzo Navarro and Michael Calisaan tied the game at 71.
A miss from Calvo gave Calisaan a chance to win the game at the buzzer but Balanza made a huge defensive play by recovering quickly with a big block.
Calvo finished with 12 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals while Ambohot, who went out in the 5:48 mark of the third period, still finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Calisaan led the Stags with 18 points and 13 rebounds while Navarro chipped in 14 points and four assists.
The defeat ended San Sebastian's back to back wins as they fell to 3-4.
LETRAN 79 – Nambatac 23, Calvo 12, Ambohot 11, Balanza 10, Quinto 5, Mandreza 5, Gedaria 5, Caralipio 3, Pascual 3, Taladua 2, Balagasay 0, Bernabe 0, Vacaro 0, De Villa 0
SAN SEBASTIAN 75 – Calisaan 18, Navarro 14, Calma 11, David 10, Bulanadi 10, Ilagan 8, Gayosa 3, Mercado 1, Baetiong 0, Capobres 0, Costelo 0, Are 0
QUARTERSCORES: 17-13, 33-27, 53-52, 71-71, 79-75 (OT)