GETTING to the top may have been easy, but staying there was the hard part.
Letran, in the midst of a dwindling learning curve, hopes to get back on the winning track as it squares off against Jose Rizal University on Saturday in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Once lording over the standings following a seven-game winning streak to start the season, the Knights have now slid to third spot after losing three of their last six games, the latest a shock 64-87 defeat at the hands of Emilio Aguinaldo College last week.
The loss to the Generals suddenly dropped the Knights to third place instead of gaining for the Intramuros-based dribblers a share of the lead.
“Ang kagandahan lang doon is we know we have to play harder,” Knights coach Caloy Garcia said. “We just have to take the loss and learn from it and we just have to wake up against JRU.”
The Knights, who have yet to face top squads San Beda and University of Perpetual Help, hope to regain their bearings quickly, starting with the Heavy Bombers in their 4 p.m. encounter with a victory allowing them overtake the Altas in second place.
The Bombers, who lost to Letran by a close margin in the first round, 66-69, are certainly not easy pickings as they are aching to snap out of a four-game skid to stay alive in the Final Four race.
Handled by the tenacious Vergel Meneses, the Bombers are currently in sixth place, one game behind resurgent EAC.
The odds remain in favor of the Knights, who boast a star-studded cast led by MVP candidate Raymond Almazan, Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal, and Rey Nambatac.
The Arellano Chiefs try to keep whatever playoff hopes left in them as they face cellar-dwelling Mapua in the second game two hours later.
The Chiefs, in eighth place with a 4-9 win-loss card, are still mathematically in contention, while the Cardinals are already eliminated and are just hoping to gain a second win in 14 games.