LETRAN stretched its unbeaten run to seven by nipping hapless Lyceum, 83-78, on Tuesday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac each had 19 points, while Jomari Sollano added 11 for Letran, which matched its 7-0 start two years ago.
Jean Nguidjol scored 22 points for Lyceum, which suffered its sixth loss in seven games and dropped to the bottom with San Sebastian.
The Knights are two wins away from a first-round sweep, but rookie coach Aldin Ayo stressed they are not looking too far ahead.
“I’m not thinking about that, kahit nga Final Four ’di ko pa tinitignan,” he said. “Laro lang kami, actually right after this we will work on for EAC (Emilio Aguinaldo College).”
Ayo had to adjust the Knights’ palyig minutes when playmaker Mark Cruz had to leave the game after being elbowed by Allyn Malaban.
Racal played the entire third quarter, Nambatac was fielded for a total of 28 minutes, Sollano saw action for 21 minutes and Bong Quinto played 20.
Cruz was able to convince Ayo to send him back in at 4:41 in the third quarter to help his team take control.
“Anybody can play, pero iba pa rin ang Mark Cruz,” he said. "Sabi niya, ‘coach I'm ready to play.’”
“Evidence ito na kahot anong mangyari pipigain namin manalo,” he added. “We’ll do everything na pinakamahirap para manalo.”
Cruz had five points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals in 21 minutes of play.
Lyceum got to within two, 69-71, but Letran responded with an 8-0 run to widen the gap, 79-69, with 3:14 left to play.
Letran 83 - Nambatac 19, Racal 19, Sollano 11, Quinto 9, Calvo 7, Luib 6, Cruz 5, Balanza 3, Balagasay 2, Publico 2, Apreku 0, Bernabe 0.
Lyceum 78 - Nguidjol 22, Ayaay 14, Sunga 11, Gabayni 9, Baltazar 6, Bulawan 4, Alanes 3, Mbida 3, Soliman 2, Lacastesantos 2, Lugo 2, Malabanan 0, Taladua 0.
Quarterscores: 19-12; 34-35; 57-55; 83-78.