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NCAA 95: Knights extend win streak; CSB still unbeaten

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by Waylon Galvez

Games Thursday (JRU Gym, Mandaluyng City)
2 p.m. – JRU vs EAC (Jrs)
4 p.m. – JRU vs EAC (Srs)

Games Friday (The Arena, San Juan)
8 a.m. – San Beda vs St. Benilde (Jrs)
10 a.m. – SSC-R vs Perpetual Help (Jrs)
12 n.n. – San Beda vs St. Benilde (Srs)
2 p.m. – SSC-R vs Perpetual Help (Srs)
4 p.m. – Arellano vs Lyceum (Srs)
6 p.m. – Arellano vs Lyceum (Jrs)

Despite the inconsistencies of Letran, the Knights managed to pull off another victory by beating the Mapua Cardinals, 89-84, in the 95th NCAA men’s basketball Tuesday at The Arena in San Juan.

Edson Batiller, one of the graduating Knights this season, buried a three-point basket that beat the shot clock and gave Letran an 89-84 lead with 19.1 seconds remaining in the game.

Letran’s defense in the final moments denied Mapua a clear shot as time expired, allowing the Knights to extend their win streak to five and regain solo third with a 5-1 record behind unbeaten teams San Beda University (4-0) and College of St. Benilde (3-0).

Larry Muyang led Letran with 24 points and nine rebounds, while Batiller contributed 15 points, Jeo Ambohot added 14 points and Jerrick Balanza finished with 11 points.

Despite the win, Letran coach Bonnie Tan said he isn’t pleased with the overall performance of the Knights, particularly on how the smaller roster of Mapua controlled the rebounding department, 45-39.

“It’s a bad game, but I’m happy with the win,” said Tan, who is in his first season coaching the Knights. “We’re still learning, and I don’t know until when we’re going to learn. We don’t know what we really want to do.”

“I said bad game because coming into the game we know we have the height advantage. But we were outrebounded. I was surprised too that in the last play, they had the ball (possession),” he added.

Tan said they have another week to figure things out as they play the CSB Blazers on Tuesday.

Letran shot better from the field by going 36-of-67 (53.73%) as compared to Mapua’s 32-of-82 (39.02%), but Mapua’s scrappy style going for the rebound – highlighted by 21 offensive boards – had the Cardinals score 15 second chance points to the Knights’ six markers.

Chris Bunag led Mapua with 17 points and 12 rebounds but the setback kept the Cardinals winless in the tournament – the only team to get a W – as they dropped to 0-5. Laurenz Victoria and Noah Lugo added 15 and 12 points respectively for the Randy Alcantara mentored squad.

Rookie Chris Flores, meantime, scattered 14 points and grabbed five boards as College of St. Benilde downed San Sebastian, 77-72, to stay unbeaten in the tournament.

Filling in for the injured Justin Gutang, Flores responded to the challenge to help the Blazers improve to 4-0 that tied them with defending three-time champion San Beda Red Lions for the lead.

“He (Flores) is a tough kid, very much of a competitor. You know, I can also say that he will be a part of the future of this team. Good thing about him is when he plays, he got all heart,” said CSB coach TY Tang, whose team’s 4-0 start is its finest since joining the league in 1998.

CSB takes on San Beda this Friday in what should be an exciting battle between the two unbeaten teams.

As for SSC, the setback was the Stags’ third straight after a 2-0 start.

In the second game, University of Perpetual Help System DALTA snapped a three-game skid as the Altas defeated host school Arellano University Chiefs, 75-73.

The Scores:
First game:
LETRAN 89 – Muyang 24, Batiller 15, Ambohot 14, Balanza 11, Yu 8, Ular 6, Sangalang 4, Olivario 3, Mina 2, Javillonar 2, Caralipio 0, Reyson 0.

MAPUA 84 – Buñag 17, Victoria 15, Lugo 12, Bonifacio 10, Gamboa 9, Salenga 6, Gonzales 5, Hernandez 5, Nieles 3, Garcia 2, Serrano 0, Nocum 0, Jabel 0.

Quarters: 19-16; 40-39; 66-60; 89-84.

Second Game
PERPETUAL HELP 75 – Aurin 17, Adamos 16, Charcos 15, Egan 10, Peralta 7, Razon 5, Cuevas 4, Sevilla 1, Tamayo 0, Barasi 0, Martel 0.

ARELLANO 73 – Arana 20, Sablan 13, Salado 10, Espiritu 7, Santos 6, Alcoriza 5, Concepcion 4, Bayla 4, Oliva 2, Gayosa 2, Segura 0, Talampas 0, De Guzman 0.

Quarters: 27-18; 41-39; 62-57; 75-73.

Third Game
ST. BENILDE 77 – Naboa 15, Flores 14, Pasturan 12, Leutcheu 12, Haruna 10, Belgica 6, Sangco 4, Dixon 2, Carlos 2, Young 0, Lepalam 0.

SSC-R 72 – Ilagan 24, Bulanadi 17, Capobres 7, Calma 7, Sumoda 7, Tero 4, Altamirano 3, Calahat 2, Villapando 1, Dela Cruz 0, Desoyo 0, Loristo 0, Suico 0.

Quarters: 16-18; 30-40; 54-58; 77-72.

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