BONBON Batiller's bailout three saved Letran from a huge upset against Mapua, 89-84, on Tuesday in the NCAA Season 95 seniors basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The 6-foot guard's shot-clock-beating trey gave the Knights the breathing room they needed with 19.1 seconds left as they pulled off their fifth straight victory to go up to a 5-1 record.
"Bailout," admitted coach Bonnie Tan of the shot. "Though it's a bad game, I'm still happy with the win."
Batiller finished with 15 points, four rebounds, and three assists to complement Larry Muyang's near-double-double performance of 24 points and nine boards.
Jeo Ambohot added 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Jerrick Balanza got 11 points and four dimes in the squeaker.
The win, however, was another ugly one for Letran as it lost hold of a nine-point lead, 82-73 with 3:21 remaining as Christian Bunag rallied Mapua back in the game, with his undergoal stab cutting the deficit down to just two, 86-84, with 33.9 ticks left.
Batiller's trey did rattle the Cardinals a bit, but Ato Ular delivered the coup de grace with his rejection of Bunag down low as the final buzzer sounded.
Still, the game showed Tan what the Knights still have to do as they lost the battle of the boards, 45 to 39.
"Sa stats pa lang, we're outrebounded kahit na alam natin na we have the advantage sa height, so I was surprised na until the last second, sa kanila pa rin ang bola," the soft-spoken mentor rued. "It's alarming. Every now and then, sinasabi nila na we are still learning pero hindi namin alam kung kailan ba talaga kami matututo. Hindi pa rin namin alam yung gusto naming laro."
Mapua suffered its fifth straight defeat to remain as the only winless team in the tourney.
The loss spoiled Bunag's 17-point and 12-rebound performance, while Laurenz Victoria got 15 points, six boards, four assists, and three steals.
Noah Lugo also chured out a solid game with 12 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in the loss.
Letran 89 - Muyang 24, Batiller 15, Ambohot 14, Balanza 11, Yu 8, Ular 6, Sangalang 4, Olivario 3, Mina 2, Javillonar 2, Caralipio 0, Reyson 0.
Mapua 84 - Bunag 17, Victoria 15, Lugo 12, Bonifacio 10, Gamboa 9, Salenga 6, Gonzales 5, Hernandez 5, Nieles 3, Garcia 2, Serrano 0, Nocum 0, Jabel 0.
Quarterscores: 19-16; 40-39; 66-60; 89-84.