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    What you need to know about Game One of NCAA Finals

    May 14, 2022
    Fran Yu Paolo Hernandez
    Fran Yu and Paolo Hernandez try to lead their teams to the early upper hand.
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto | NCAA/GMA Photos

    LETRAN and Mapua begin their championship joust in the NCAA Season 97 seniors basketball Finals Sunday at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

    Undefeated all season long, the Knights are heading into the best-of-three series as the overwhelming favorites as they have won their last 10 games, including a 77-75 escape from Perpetual in the Final Four.

    But the Cardinals also couldn't be taken lightly, finally rising to the occasion and outlasting San Beda in the semis thanks to a 70-67 Game Two win to arrange this Battle of Intramuros clash.

    It's a matchup that has never before seen, with Letran looking to make the most of its second consecutive Finals appearance while Mapua intent to deliver in its first since 1992.

    The last time the Cardinals stood on the Knights' way was in 1979 when the Leo Isaac-led Mapua, also featuring Rey Perez, Edwin Leano, and Rey Revillosa, put up a tough fight against a celebrated Letran team that had Season MVP Ramon San Juan, Itoy Esguerra, Tim Coloso Bong Aninon before losing the last game in the second round as the Muralla side won two pennants.

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    Here's what you should know about the 3 p.m. clash.

    Letran vs Mapua Game 1 preview

    OVERWHELMING FAVORITES: Letran, despite its preseason struggles, did reach its expectations and put itself in a position to score the back-to-back. Behind Jeo Ambohot, Rhenz Abando, and Fran Yu, the Knights have been an absolute juggernaut, one that the Cardinals are wary of especially after their 80-60 eliminations meeting back in April 8.

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    INTRAMUROS THREE PARTY: Underdogs Mapua can still make a series out of it. That is if the Cardinals can get their gunners going as they place at the top of the list for three-point field goals at 31.37-percent. Pressure will be on the guys like Paolo Hernandez, Brian Lacap, and Toby Agustin to stretch the floor and make themselves legitimate threats for the red-and-gold.

    PAINT THE TOWN RED AND BLUE: The 20-point blowout the last time the two teams faced off isn't really much of surprise given the big discrepancy when it comes to rebounding. Letran pounded it in down low, scoring 35 points in the paint and grabbing 56 huge boards against just 35 for Mapua. If things remain the same, don't expect for the outcome to change.

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      WHERE'S WARREN: After a solid 18-13 line in Game One, Warren Bonifacio found himself caged in Game Two where he only had eight points and six boards for Mapua. It's eerily similar to his six on 2-of-9 shooting on top of three rebounds against Letran in the eliminations. Bonifacio must shake off those struggles or else, see this dream ascent end in a nightmare.

      PLAYER TO WATCH: Ambohot was a big thorn on the side of Mapua, delivering an MVP-worthy performance with his 16 points, 12 rebounds, and one block. If he can replicate those numbers, expect Letran to draw first blood and inch a win away from its dream repeat.

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      Fran Yu and Paolo Hernandez try to lead their teams to the early upper hand.
      PHOTO: Marlo Cueto | NCAA/GMA Photos
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