LETRAN kept its unbeaten record intact on Friday after pulling off a 77-68 win over Arellano in the NCAA Season 91 seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Knights won their sixth game to stay on course for a sweep of the first round after hurdling the Chiefs, the only other team they had to face in the round from the upper half of the standings.
The Muralla-based squad has Lyceum, Emilio Aguinaldo College, and Mapua to face for the rest of its first-round schedule.
Kevin Racal had 24 points while Mark Cruz scored only nine points but made a big three-pointer with 1:52 left in the fourth to give Letran a 74-68 lead and pour cold water on a late Arellano rally.
Rey Nambatac had 13 points and 10 rebounds while Jomari Sollano had 12 points as the Knights snapped Arellano’s four-game winning streak.
Letran coach Aldin Ayo made it clear the win over Arellano was no way a walk in the park as the Knights had to contend with tough match-ups against the backcourt tandem of Jiovani Jalalon and Michael Salado.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher especially this one. Akala ko mahirap na ‘yung San Beda, Perpetual, and JRU. But this was the toughest because their point guard can match up with our point guard,” said Ayo.
“I told the players we have to execute,” said Ayo.
Led by Racal’s 11 points in the second period, Letran opened a 43-32 lead at halftime. Racal had nine markers in the next quarter as the Knights continued to roll, 62-48, entering the third.
The Chiefs closed the gap to 71-68 on a Zach Nicholls three but that was quickly answered by Cruz' own trey.
Nichols had 14 points but went just 4-of-14 clip from three-point range for Arellano (4-2). Julius Cadavis had 12 points while Jalalon had 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Salado, however, only had five points.
Letran (77) — Racal 24, Nambatac 13, Sollano 12, Cruz 9, Luib 5, Apreku 4, Balanza 4, Publico 4, Quinto 2, Calvo 0.
Arellano (68) — Nicholls 14, Cadavis 12, Jalalon 10, Holts 10, Enriquez 8, Gumaru 5, Salado 5, Bangga 4, Ongolo-Ongolo 0, Ortega 0, De Guzman 0, Zamora 0, Tano 0.
Quarterscores: 21-16, 42-32, 62-48, 77-68