FORMER Letran ace Kevin Alas is confident a bright future still lies ahead of the Knights despite a 96-99 double overtime loss to arch-rival San Beda in the opening match of the 2014 FilOil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at The Arena on Saturday.
Alas, who steered the Muralla-based squad to a runner-up finish in the NCAA two years ago, believes Letran is still a force to be reckoned with despite the departure of big man and last year’s league MVP Raymond Almazan.
After watching the San Beda-Letran game from ringside, the Gilas cadet said the Knights still have a solid core of players in Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac, Kevin Racal, and Jamil Gabawan to fill the void left by Almazan.
"Siyempre, contender pa rin 'yan (Letran) kasi nandoon pa 'yung core ng team," he said. "Si Raymond lang 'yung nawala, although si Raymond malaking factor 'yun (sa team)."
"Oo naman, (confident ako sa team.) Kita mo naman, ang lakas. 'Yung San Beda, may Ola (Adeogun), ('yung Letran) wala silang Raymond pero natatapatan pa rin nila," he added.
The Knights’ rookies have also earned raves from the 22-year-old guard, who played for Letran since his elementary days.
Bong Quinto, the 2012 NCAA Juniors Rookie-MVP, Chester Saldua, Daryll Singontiko, Isan dela Pena, and Felix Apreku, had a combined 21-point production for the Knights in their loss to the reigning four-time NCAA reigning champions.
"Promising lahat ng rookies. 'Yung iba nga, ngayon ko lang nakita ang gagaling pala ng mga 'yun eh," said Alas. "Lumalaban lahat, may puso lahat."
The only thing he saw lacking in the team is a certified go-to-guy who could take over during crunch time.
But given more time, Alas is certain Letran’s current roster will learn to play together in time for the 90th season of the NCAA this June.
"Pero siguro, kailangan lang nila 'yung may magte-take charge sa end game kasi tingin ko 'yun lang ang kulang nila," Alas said. "All throughout the game naman in control sila, eh. Ang ganda ng takbo nila pero one month pa lang naman silang nag-pa-practice together.
"Siguro by NCAA naman, mayroon na silang go-to-guy pag dating sa endgame."