LETRAN tries to give Jose Rizal University a dose of its own medicine on Saturday when the two teams collide in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
The Knights vie for a third straight victory and the solo lead in the 10-team standings in the 6 p.m. encounter as they try to employ a defensive scheme that has been the calling card of the star-less Heavy Bombers.
“Hindi kami magpapatalo kasi kilala din ang Letran pagdating sa depensa,” said rookie guard Rey Nambatac, who delivered down the stretch in the Knights’ 79-74 win over Emilio Aguinaldo College last Saturday. “It will be exciting kasi…bukas malalaman kung sino `yung mas magaling dumepensa.”
But first, the Knights have to figure out a way on how to attack the Bombers, who will try to recover from a 78-70 loss to University of Perpetual Help last Monday that evened their win-loss record at 1-1.
“We have to work on our press break,” Knights coach Caloy Garcia said. “We know that JRU is a team that will go full court (defensively) for forty minutes.”
And Nambatac, who had 13 points, including two crucial free throws that kept the Generals at bay the last time, believes the Knights had enough time to prepare against the Bombers in practice.
“I think we can break their press kasi one week namin in-ensayo yun.”
Once they do make it across the half-court line, the Knights will have plenty of options to go to apart from Nambatac.
There is Raymond Almazan, the towering slotman who has been a double-double machine in Letran’s last two games, and pint-sized playmaker Mark Cruz, who has been running the Knights’ offense with aplomb.
The Bombers, on the other hand, continue to rely on the backcourt duo of Philip Paniamogan and Paolo Pontejos, and sophomore center Michael Mabulac.
Meantime, Mapua seeks to ride the momentum of its thrilling 104-99 double-overtime win over San Sebastian last Monday as it takes on Lyceum earlier at 4 p.m.
The Cardinals and Pirates have similar 1-1 slates.