EAGER to atone for a shock loss, Letran vented its ire on Arellano and scored a 70-59 victory on Monday to regain a piece of the lead in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Coming off a 76-80 defeat at the hands of Lyceum, the Knights banked on a scintillating start and never looked back on the way to their 10th victory in 13 games, tying archrival San Beda at the top.
“I just told the players na pag natalo kami, may chance kami bumaba sa third place,” Knights coach Caloy Garcia said. “I just challenged them to step up and look for confidence again.”
John Von Jovi Tambeling once again provided the spark, while Raymond Almazan, Mark Cruz, and Rey Nambatac delivered as usual for the Knights, who maintained a double-digit cushion that grew to as many as 25 points in the third quarter.
The Knights also dealt the Chiefs their ninth loss in 13 games.
The only time the Chiefs were ahead was at 3-2 at the start of the game, before the Knights pulled away to a 12-point lead behind a 15-2 salvo led by Tambeling, who scored 10 of his game-high 15 points in the first quarter.
The Knights’ lead ballooned to 51-25 after a Kevin Racal jumper with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Almazan solidified his stature as the league’s leading MVP candidate, tallying another double-double of 12 points and 12 boards, on top of four blocks, three steals, and the breakaway slam that punctuated the Knights’ stellar effort.
Cruz chipped in 12 points, the same output as the rookie Nambatac, who missed a double-double by just one rebound and also had five assists.
Nard Pinto, who hit the game-winner in the Chiefs’ 76-75 win over Lyceum, spearheaded his team’s attack anew with 17 markers, but was scoreless in the first period where the Knights broke the game wide open.
Letran (70) – Tambeling 15, Cruz 12, Almazan 12, Nambatac 10, Racal 8, Castro 4, Gabawan 4, Belorio 3, Publico 2, Po 0, Luib 0, Olotu 0, Buenaflor 0.
Arellano (59) – Pinto 17, Serjue 11, Caperal 11, Salcedo 6, Forrester 5, Nicholls 3, Hernandez 3, Jalalon 2, Agovida 1, Bangga 0, Margallo 0, Cadavis 0.
Quarterscores: 23-14; 39-23; 57-36; 70-59.