LETRAN built leads of as many as 21 points in the middle quarters and held on to beat five-time defending champion San Beda, 93-80, on Thursday in the NCAA Season 91 seniors basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Rey Nambatac, and Mark Cruz led the Knights in second and third quarter runs that gave Letran enough cushion to come away with the huge win and join Perpetual Help on top of the standings with a 3-0 mark.
Then Kevin Racal came up with the finishing touches for Letran, scoring eight of his 20 points in the fourth quarter to thwart San Beda’s comeback try. Racal took charge after Cruz suffered cramps and Nambatac fouled out.
Cruz had eight of his 16 points in the third period, while Rey Nambatac had 10 of his 13 markers in the second. The two combined for six triples to put Letran ahead, 52-31, and again at 67-46 on back-to-back triples by Cruz.
“This was the most difficult preparation that we had,” said Letran coach Aldin Ayo. “’Yung 10 days na pahinga namin, almost six times ko pinanood ’yung laro nila. After a week of reviewing, hindi ko alam ang gagawin ko.”
In the end, Ayo stuck with the team’s system.
“My last decision was to stick with our game plan. ’Yung pressure on defense and execution on offense. We don’t run and gun. We run and execute,” said Ayo.
Ola Adeogun had 20 points while Art Dela Cruz added 18 points for San Beda, which dropped to 2-1 win-loss. The Red Lions also lost Baser Amer early after he appeared to reinjure his right shoulder.
Letran (93)—Racal 20, Cruz 16, Nambatac 13, Calvo 12, Sollano 10, Apreku 9, Luib 6, Quinto 5, Balanza 2, Balagasaay 0, Publico 0.
San Beda (80)—Adeogun 20, Dela Cruz 18, Amer 10, Koga 7, Tongco 7, Tankoua 6, Cabanag 4, Mocon 4, Sorela 4, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0, Sedillo 0.
Quarterscores: 21-15; 52-33; 67-53; 93-80.