LETRAN kept its three-peat drive on Tuesday, pulling off a 67-58 victory over Lyceum to reach a third successive finals in the NCAA Season 98 seniors basketball tournament at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
Brent Paraiso scored the last seven points for the Knights, none bigger than his floater in the last 1:03 that gave the defending champions a 10-point edge, 65-55, as their fans started the celebration in the stands.
[READ: St. Benilde makes long-awaited NCAA Finals appeance]
Letran will now meet top-seed St. Benilde in a best-of-three championship series which starts this Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Paraiso's fantastic finish saw him end up with nine points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block to make up for his six turnovers as the Knights lived up to preseason expectations and reached the finals again.
"Yung three-peat secondary na lang. We take every game day-by-day and we're happy na at least, nakatuntong kami ulit sa finals," said coach Bonnie Tan.
Fran Yu led Letran's balanced attack with 12 points and three boards, King Caralipio tallied a double-double of 10 points, 12 rebounds, five dimes, and one steal, and Louie Sangalang git nine points, seven boards, and four assists in the victory.
Enoch Valdez poured his heart out for LPU with 15 points and 11 rebounds, keeping his side in with a chance despite Paraiso's late barrage.
Mac Guadana had 14 points from three treys, alongside three boards a d two steals in a sad end on what has been a surprising Final Four run for the Pirates.
LETRAN 67 - Yu 11, Caralipio 10, Paraiso 9, Sangalang 9, Javillonar 8, Reyson 7, Olivario 6, Monje 4, Go 3, Ariar 0, Guarino 0.
LPU 58 - Valdez 15, Guadana 14, Bravo 6, Larupay 6, Montano 5, Umali 3, Penafiel 3, Navarro 2, Barba 2, Vinoya 1, Villegas 1, Cunanan 0.
Quarters: 13-17, 30-28, 50-45, 67-58.