LETRAN moved within a win of the Final Four as it escaped past Emilio Aguinaldo College, 86-80, in the 88th NCAA men’s basketball tournament Saturday at the Arena in San Juan.
The Knights took a 26-point lead, 61-35 on a Kevin Alas triple but went sloppy and allowed the Generals to cut down the deficit to 84-80 with 14.8 seconds left. The Letran-based squad barely held on and now look to seal a spot in the semifinals when it takes on also-ran Arellano on Oct. 6.
"At least one foot inside na," said coach Louie Alas after Letran recorded its fifth straight victory and improved its win-loss record to 11-6.
"We just have to take care of our own business and win against Arellano then sigurado na sa Final Four."
Team captain Jam Cortes led four other Knights in double figures with 25 points, 17 in the first half, and grabbed 14 rebounds, dished out an assist, got two steals and had one block.
"Walang day off yan si Jam. Kahit sa practice ganyan yan," said Alas of the senior forward. "Yan din ang expectation ko sa kanya."
Kevin Alas chipped in with 17 points, Mark Cruz had 12, while Kevin Racal and Raymond Almazan had 10 each for Letran.
Russell Yaya came up with 20 markers, while John Tayontong and Noube Happi had a combined 27 points. Happi also hauled down 11 boards for EAC, which now has a 7-10 mark.
Letran (86) - Cortes 25, Alas 17, Cruz 12, Racal 10, Almazan 10, Belorio 6, Gabawan 2, Luib 0.
EAC 80: Yaya 20, Tayontong 15, Happi 12, Morada 9, Jamon 8, Paguia 6, Chion 4, Monteclaro 4, Pillias 2, King 0, Sanchez 0, Munsayac 0.
Quarterscores: 27-14; 51-31; 69-56; 86-80.