LETRAN showed what it can accomplish with a complete lineup as it drubbed Intramuros neighbor Mapua, 72-60, on Thursday to move back to the .500 mark in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
“Nadagdagan na ang post presence namin,” said Knights coach Louie Alas, who cannot hide his joy over the return of his two big men.
Although Almazan and Belorio figured prominently in the win, it was Jam Cortes who took center stage as the Knights’ frontline did most of the damage against the Cardinals, who dropped to 4-6.
“Alam mo naman si Jam, walang dayoff yan eh. Mr. 100 percent palagi ya,” Alas said of Cortes, who pumped in 19 points to go with 10 boards and four blocks.
In his first competitive game in almost two months, Almazan finished with four points, six rebounds and one block in 12 minutes before fouling out.
“Kahit sandali lang siya maglaro, malaki ang natutulong niya, intangibles and intimidation,” Alas said of his prized 6-foot-7 slotman.
After jumping to a 20-9 first-quarter lead, the Knights kept the Cardinals at bay the rest of the way.
The Cardinals, whose two-game skid was snapped, came closest at 42-48 after a Kenneth Ighalo triple with three minutes and 12 seconds to go in the third before the Knights established another comfortable lead in the fourth.
“It was just a solid defensive effort,” said Alas, whose wards held the Cardinals to just 27 percent shooting from the field -- just days after allowing Jose Rizal University to score 101 against them.
LETRAN 72 – Cortes 19, Racal 12, Alas Ke. 11, Cruz 8, Belorio 6, Lituania 6, Alas Kr. 4, Almazan 4, Gabawan 2, Luib 0, Pantin 0
MAPUA 60 – Parala 17, Banal G. 14, Banal J. 11, Ighalo 9, Nimes 7, Eriobu 2, Saitanan 0, Chien 0, Cantos 0, Stevens 0, Brana 0, Estrella 0
Quarterscores: 20-9, 40-22, 55-42, 72-60