LETRAN coach Caloy Garcia on Monday called out his bench players, whose production left much to be desired in the Knights’ 68-80 loss to San Beda in Game One of the NCAA men’s basketball Finals on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Raymond Almazan, Mark Cruz, and Kevin Racal delivered as usual for the team, but the trio failed to get significant support from the bench, which contributed just 12 points.
“I told my second stringers we can’t rely too much on the starting five,” said Garcia, who could only get two points from rookie Rey Nambatac, and four points each from Jojo Belorio and Jon Von Jovi Tambeling.
The 5-foot-5 Cruz stood tallest offensively with a game-high 22 points, along with seven boards, and seven assists.
“Mark is really a talented player, so I think all we need are people who can support him, because today Ola had his support,” Garcia said, referring to San Beda import Ola Adeogun, who gained significant contributions from Baser Amer, Yvan Ludovice, and the Semerad brothers, Anthony and David.
“Kailangan talaga namin `yung second stringers na mag-step up,” said Almazan, the newly crowned MVP who registered 16 points, 10 boards, and three blocks,
Racal was the only other double-digit scorer with 12 points as the trio combined for 50 of the team’s total output.
While he was pleased of his team’s showing in the third quarter, when they outscored the Lions, 29-21, to go ahead by six points heading into the fourth quarter, Garcia rued his team’s performance in the all-important payoff period.
“We collapsed and played soft in the fourth quarter,” Garcia admitted. “They are lessons to be learned.”
“But I still believe deep inside that we can come back in Game Two and still win the championship.”