Known for his defense, Jomari Sollano comes up with solid offensive game for Knights in NCAA title decider
Letran's Jomari Sollano comes up some huge baskets in the final faceoff with the Red Lions. Jerome Ascano

A PLAYER known mostly for defense, Jomari Sollano helped spark the Knights on offense in their biggest game of the NCAA Season 91.

The 6-foot-3 Sollano was tasked during the finals series to try and contain San Beda import Ola Adeogun. The player from Cebu also put on an offensive game that helped the Knights end a 10-year-drought in the country’s oldest collegiate basketball league.

Sollano, Jom to his teammates and coaches, finished second in scoring behind Kevin Racal in Letran’s 85-82 Game Three victory over San Beda, finishing with 19 points to go along with seven rebounds in a match to remember for one of the team’s few big men.

“Nagpapasalamat talaga ako kay God. Pati na rin sa mga teammates ko kasi buo ’yung tiwala nila sa akin,” said Sollano.

Entering the best-of-three series, Sollano, a product of University of Southern Philippines Foundation, was tasked with the big responsibility of guarding Adeogun, San Beda’s Nigerian import who has been dominating the paint in all his years with the team.

“Malaki ‘yung hinihingi nila sa amin lalo na sa depensa kay Ola. Kaya nandiyan lagi ‘yung mga teammates ko para suportahan ako,” said Sollano.

Letran coach Aldin Ayo praised Sollano’s play all season as he had to guard the NCAA’s best big men, mostly imports.

“Siya lang ‘yung last big man standing namin,” said Ayo. “Isipin niyo ‘yung tinrabaho ni Jom. From (Allwell) Oraeme, to Ola (Adeogun), to (Donald) Tankoua). Then before that, (Bright) Akhuetie and (Prince) Eze. Siya ‘yung nagtrabaho.”

Letran’s undersized center entered the finals with an average of 8.94 points, 5.89 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks during the elimination round for the Knights.

In Game Three, Sollano shot 9 for 12 from the field, mostly open shots from midrange, to complement Letran’s Big Three of Racal, Finals Most Valuable Player Mark Cruz, and Rey Nambatac.

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Sollano also made the go-ahead basket in overtime, hitting a jumper that put Letran ahead, 83-82, a lead they would protect the rest of the way.

“Sabi nga rin sa akin ni coach, kailangan ko ring hindi umasa sa depensa. Kailangan mas magtiwala rin ako sa sarili ko at sa mga teammates ko na magawa namin ‘yung mga plays na dapat naming gawin sa loob ng court,” said Sollano.

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