LETRAN got back on track in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament as it downed Mapua, 66-60, and snapped a three-game skid on Monday at The Arena in San Juan.
Kevin Alas had a near triple-double for the Knights with 21 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. His two free throws in the final 13.1 seconds iced the game for the host school, 64-59.
Letran won for the first time since defeating San Sebastian in the opener. The Knights improved to 2-3 and forged a four-way tie with their victims, the St. Benilde Blazers, and the Arellano Chiefs.
Center Jam Cortes also returned to action for Letran after serving a one-game suspension. The Knights center heralded his comeback with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Knights didn’t peel off from the Cardinals until the third quarter when they held the opposition to just six points. In all, Letran outscored Mapua, 14-6, in the period for a 45-37 lead entering the pivotal fourth.
The host stretched the lead to 60-50 with 2:40 left to play, before Mapua came up with a late run and threatened at 59-62 on a basket by Josan Nimes with 26 seconds to go.
Then came the two clinching free throws by Alas that took the fight out of the Cardinals.
LETRAN (66) -- Alas K. 21, Cortes 12, Belorio 12, Racal 8, Lituania 5, Gabawan 4, Alas J. 2, Cruz 2, Pantin 0.
MAPUA (60) -- Parala 15, Ighalo 14, Chien 10, Nimes 7, Banal J. 6, Estrella 3, Saitanan 3, Banal G. 2, Stevens 0.
Quarterscores: 17-16; 31-31; 45-37; 66-60.