BREAKING the 30-point barrier seemed to be a piece of cake for Kevin Alas this season. So he decided to up the ante to another level on Saturday night.
The fourth-year guard erupted for 43 points -the highest in the league in three years -to lead Letran to a 92-74 victory over San Sebastian and sent their NCAA men’s Final Four showdown to a deciding winner-take-all.
The sudden-death is set Monday at The Arena in San Juan for the right to face San Beda in the best-of-three title series.
The 20-year-old Alas, whose total output was the highest in the league since former Jose Rizal University guard John Wilson fired 48 points in 2009, broke his own career high of 35 points in an elimination-round game against College of St. Benilde this season.
The prolific Letran gunner had four 30-point games in the elimination round this season.
Known more as a slasher in his first three years in the league, Alas added the three-point shot to his arsenal this season. And that was in full display against the Stags as he was on target the whole game, burying 10 triples and shooting 15-of-22 from the field overall.
“Naririnig ko ang mga comment ng tao dati na slasher lang daw ako, kaya naging motivation sa akin yun na mag-extra work ako,” he said.
Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal provided ample support for Alas. The diminutive Cruz tallied 20 points, seven rebounds, and two assists, while Racal flirted with a triple-double of 10 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists.
Louie Alas, Kevin’s father and Knights coach, commended his whole team’s performance, hoping it would be able to reprise the same result in their do-or-die match.
“I’m very happy but I can be happier kung mauulit ito,” he said. “But it’s easier said than done.”
The Knights have now defeated the Stags three straight times this season. And asked what they always did right in all three games, Alas summed it up in one word.
“Willingness,” said the soft-spoken coach. “Sa practice wala naman kaming iniiba, pero pag sa laro, makikita mo sa mata nila yung willingness nilang manalo.”
Proving their willingness and desire, the Knights jumped out to a 20-point first-quarter lead. They maintained the double-digit cushion throughout the game.
The Stags, who missed the suspended Ronald Pascual, came close at 62-74 after an Ian Sangalang short stab with six minutes and 23 seconds to play.
Calvin Abueva came up with his usual numbers, churning out 21 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, and three block shots, although he was 0-of-8 from three-point territory and committed eight turnovers.
Sangalang, soon-to-be named MVP and usually the most consistent among the Stags, missed a double-double this time, wounding up with just 13 points and five rebounds.
CSJL (92) -- K. Alas 43, Cruz 20, Racal 10, Lituanio 8, Belorio 4, Gabawan 4, Cortes 3, Almazan 0, J. Alas 0, Luib 0, Pantin 0.
SSC (74) -- Abueva 21, Sangalang 13, Juico 10, Dela Cruz 8, Rebollos 6, Miranda 6, Maiquez 5, Gusi 3, Vitug 2, Antipuesto 0, Binuya 0, Dones 0
Quarterscores: 27-7, 46-28, 69-48, 92-74