LETRAN once again proved that you can never underestimate the heart of a champion.
Facing Mapua for the first time since their title clash four months ago, the Knights showed composure under pressure to take a 67-62 win on Tuesday in the NCAA Season 98 seniors basketball tournament at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
Fran Yu more than made up for his two crucial turnovers in the final two minutes by burying the killer trey with 46.7 seconds left that gave the Muralla side a 64-59 cushion against the rallying Cardinals.
It was the cherry on top of the sundae for the senior guard who keyed Letran's huge fourth quarter assault, stringing 12 unanswered points to turn a 50-48 deficit into a 60-50 Letran lead with 4:57 remaining.
The pieces soon fell into place, with Letran buckling down on defense and calmly sinking the insurance free throws to wrap up its third win in four games while enduring the loss of Brent Paraiso and Louie Sangalang in final stretch.
Mapua fell to 1-4.
Yu powered the Knights to back-to-back wins with 15 points, five assists, four rebounds, and three steals while battling cramps in the endgame.
"Happy with the players. Nag-step up sila sa end game and 'yung composure, nandoon," said coach Bonnie Tan.
Paraiso was thrown out for a disqualifying foul for a hit on the head of Adrian Nocum, and Sangalang following suit with a pair of technicals in the endgame. Pao Javillonar poured 14 points and three boards, but was taken back to the dugout after also suffering from cramps.
King Caralipio went two points shy of a double-double with his eight points and 11 rebounds, as Kurt Reyson had eight points and six boards.
"Mapua played a very physical na game. We're expecting that, pero medyo natalo kami sa huli dahil dalawa yung na-thrown out at wala sa endgame. But a win is a win," sighed Tan.
Lacap paced the Cardinals with 12 points, four rebounds, and three steals but could not stop the team's four-game losing skid.
LETRAN 67 - Yu 15, Javillonar 14, Caralipio 8, Reyson 8, Monje 7, Sangalang 6, Paraiso 5, Santos 3, Olivario 1, Miclat 0, Tolentino 0.
MAPUA 62 - Lacap 12, Salenga 11, Hernandez 9, Nocum 8, Soriano 6, Pido 6, Bonifacio 4, Gamboa 4, Parinas 2, Garcia 0, Igliane 0.
Quarters: 10-15, 32-33, 46-48, 67-62.