LOUIE Alas has been faced with this same scenario last season. What the Letran coach hopes for this time is a different ending.
The 92-74 victory of the third-seeded Knights over San Sebastian to forge a sudden-death showdown for the last Finals berth of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, closely mirrored the exact situation in the Final Four of Season 87.
The Stags went on to win the decider and gained the right to face San Beda in the title series last year.
Alas hopes to rewrite the script this time as his Knights go for the kill against the embattled Golden Stags in their do-or-die matchup on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
“Deja vu in a different way, sana,” said Alas after Letran’s 18-point blowout win over San Sebastian.
Record-wise, the Knights appeared to have the Stags’ numbers as they have been undefeated against their old rivals in three meetings this season.
But Alas is well aware a fourth straight win against the no. 2 seed Stags is easier said than done.
“Equal footing na kami, but it will be a very, very hard game,” Alas said. “It’s all about consistency.”
Kevin Alas, son of the Letran coach, is coming of a scintillating 43-point performance in their first Final Four meeting.
Waxing hot the whole game, the 20-year-old guard buried 10 triples and was 15-of-22 from the field.
The younger Alas, set to be named as part of the Mythical Team for the second straight year, singlehandedly outscored the whole Stags five, 13-7, in the first period, a stretch which San Sebastian interim coach Allan Trinidad admitted decided the game outright.
The crucial period ended with the Knights enjoying a 27-7 lead.
The Knights hope Alas picks up from where he left off, and gain the same contribution from Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal.
But the Intramuros-based squad will be bracing for the return of Ronald Pascual, the Stags’ gunner who had been suspended for committing a disqualifying foul in the team’s final game of the eliminations against San Beda.
“Yun ang isang malaking problema, but he’s always a marked man anyway, so we have to excel on defense,” said the elder Alas, who’s also wary about the other two members of the Stags’ prolific “Pinatubo Trio” in Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang.
While Pascual will be back, a player each from both teams will miss the win-or-go-home affair.
The Knights’ JunJun Alas, Kevin’s brother, and the Stags’ AJ Vitug are both suspended for committing disqualifying fouls last Saturday.
Alas punched Michael Miranda, while Vitug elbowed Carlo Lituania above the shoulder in separate incidents during the game.