LETRAN survived a surprisingly tough challenge from Adamson to eke out a 78-73 decision on Wednesday and bolster its quarterfinal chances in the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup at The Arena in San Juan.
The Knights squandered an early lead, before tightening their defensive screws when it mattered to score the hard-earned victory against the UAAP cellar-dwellers.
“We don’t take any team for granted, kaya we expect every team na makalaban namin ay malakas,” Knights coach Aldin Ayo said. “Depensa pa rin ang nagpanalo sa amin.”
The Knights actually shot poorer than the Falcons, 38 against 40 percent, but the NCAA side made the necessary stops in the fourth quarter, where they outscored their foes, 26-16, to prevail.
Rey Nambatac carried most of the offensive load with 30 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and 11-of-12 from the foul line, on top of three steals, two assists, and one board, while rookie Jomari Sollano chipped in 10 points and three boards.
Mark Cruz was held to just two points, one assist, and one steal, but the 5-foot-5 star playmaker collared eight rebounds in 27 minutes for the Knights, who notched a fourth win in six games to climb to fourth spot in Group A, while dealing the Falcons their second loss in three matches.
The top four teams from the two groups advance to the postseason.
CSJL 78 – Nambatac 30, Sollano 10, Quinto 9, Luib 8, Publico 6, Balanza 4, Apreku 3, Cruz 2, Calvo 2, Dela Pena 2, Bernabe 2, Balagsay 0
AdU 73 – Sarr 20, Margallo 12, Pedroas 9, Pasturan 8, Tungcab 7, Ochea 6, Nalos 4, Gumtang 3, Aquino 2, Villanueva 2, Butron 0, Capote 0
Quarterscores: 20-12, 36-35, 52-57, 78-73