LETRAN regained its winning ways, surviving a brave stand by Emilio Aguinaldo College to hack out a 63-61 victory on Wednesday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Knights built an early double-digit cushion, but had to weather a late storm by the Generals as they snapped a two-game losing streak to improve to a 2-4 win-loss card and break a tie with their victims.
The Generals have now suffered a fifth straight loss to fall to a 1-5 record.
Kevin Racal shone brightest with 19 points, 11 boards, one block, and knocked in the key baskets down the stretch that kept the Generals at bay.
“We just had to stay composed,” Knights coach Caloy Garcia said. “There was a time na nag-panic kami. Pero nung pinasok na veterans, nadala na nila yung laro.”
The Knights zoomed to a first-half lead, which reached its peak at 19 after a Mark Cruz triple made it 35-16 for Letran to start the third.
But the Generals clawed back as they exploited the undersized Knights’ gaping hole in the paint. Cedric Happi threw his weight around as EAC scored 24 points in the third quarter, alone, after wounding up with just 16 in the first half.
John Tayongtong took over in the fourth period, where the Generals trusty playmaker fired 10 of his 17 points, including two on a layup that cut the deficit to a solitary point, 61-62 with 5.7 seconds left.
The Generals had a chance to steal the game after Bong Quinto split his charities on the end for the Knights, but Jan Jamon missed a potential game-winning three-point heave from half court as time expired.
CSJL 63 – Racal 19, Cruz 12, Gabawan 8, Tambeling 7, Nambatac 5, Publico 4, Dela Pena 3, Quinto 3, Singontiko 2, Castro 0, Ruaya 0, Luib 0, Apreku 0
EAC 61 – Tayongtong 17, Happi 13, Aguilar 9, Onwubere 7, Jamon 5, Arquero 5, Serrano 2, Saludo 2, King 1, Santos 0
Quarterscores: 20-10, 32-16, 45-40, 63-61