WHAT Caloy Garcia did in three years at College of St. Benilde, he was able to do in less than a year in Letran.
After coming up with 10 wins in his three years with the Blazers in the mid-2000s, the Knights coach has now steered the Intramuros-based team to 12 wins and a semifinal berth right in the first year of his tenure.
And Garcia hopes to sustain his good fortune as the Knights seek a share of the lead and one of the two twice-to-beat bonuses in the Final Four when it takes on University of Perpetual Help in another marquee matchup in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Thursday at The Arena in San Juan.
Tipoff is at 4 p.m.
Garcia inherited from multi-titled coach Louie Alas a formidable roster – led by Raymond Almazan, Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal, and Rey Nambatac, which he has made the most out of.
“All I’m trying to do here is to give these players opportunities at ang kagandahan dun, hindi ako pinapahiya sa ginagawa namin,” Garcia said. “Everybody is just working together and I just hope we can continue this until the end of the season.”
The journey of the Knights, who are running second with only three losses in 15 games, continues against no less than the Altas, one of the league’s top contenders bannered by a similarly stellar cast of Juneric Baloria, Nicholas Omorogbe, and Harold Arboleda, and mentored by veteran Aric del Rosario.
“Perpetual is probably the biggest game of the season,” said Garcia, whose wards seek to even the score after they suffered a 66-80 loss to the Altas in the first round.
The Altas, in third place with an 11-5 win-loss mark, seek a better start following a stunning 61-84 defeat at the hands of giant-slaying Lyceum last week in a game where the losers failed to recover after falling into an early hole.
The Pirates face College of St. Benilde in the second game at 6 o’clock.
Recently eliminated from playoff contention, both teams, knotted in eighth place with a 5-10 slate, are simply trying to finish their season on a high note.