LETRAN banked on Kevin Alas’ offense and Raymond Almazan’s defense as it cruised past Lyceum, 76-60, on Thursday in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Alas breached the 30-point barrier for the third time this season while Almazan showed he’s nearly back in tip-top shape as the Knights won for the seventh time in 13 games and remained in strong contention for a Final Four spot.
Alas fired 30 points, grabbed six boards and dished out six assists in another all-around effort to the delight of his dad and coach.
“Hangga’t hindi siya nag-eerror, hindi ko siya nilabas. He still committed four turnovers but it’s not bad considering he played 39 minutes,” Knights coach Louie Alas said.
The Knights, still a game and a half behind third-place holders Jose Rizal University and University of Perpetual Help, who both have 8-4 slates, also got a huge offensive boost from Almazan as the 6-foot-7 slotman scored in double digits for the first time this year with 15 points.
Almazan, though, helped the squad the most with his defense, hauling down nine rebounds and coming up with three blocks.
“Mula nung bumalik siya, hindi na siya nag-absent,” Alas said of his prized ward, who’s only in his third game back from his mysterious two-month disappearance. “He has been religiously working hard.”
Employing a relentless defense from the get-go, the Knights established a comfortable lead which grew to as big as 27 points, 65-38, after an Almazan basket with eight minutes and 37 seconds in the fourth.
“Excellent defense in the first half,” said Alas, whose wards limited the Pirates to 33-percent shooting from the field. “We always played good defense in the first half in the past but our problem was we could not sustain it. Good thing, hindi ganun ka-lalim ang bench nila.”
Lyceum starting power forward Arwin Azores added to his team’s early woes after he was thrown out for a disqualification foul in the second quarter.
The Pirates, who are already out in the running for a Final Four spot, reeled to their eighth straight loss and 11th overall against only two wins.
LETRAN 76 – K. Alas 30, Almazan 15, Cruz 10, Racal 9, Cortes 5, Lituania 2, Gabawan 2, Gabriel 2, Belorio 1, Luib 0
LYCEUM 60 – Zamora 16, Ko 14, Cayabyab 14, Garcia 2, Laude 2, Edding 2, Martinez 2, Guevarra 2, Mallari 2, Azores 2, Francisco 2, Ambohot 2, Pascual 0, Alanes 0
Quarterscores: 17-10; 38-20; 59-36; 76-60.