Photo by Courtside Philippines


Letran outlasts San Beda in Game One to move on the cusp of NCAA title

by Niel Victor Masoy, November 12, 2019 6:37pm

Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) is now a win away from claiming the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) season 95 Men’s basketball tournament title after it outlasted San Beda University (SBU), 65-64, in Game One of the Finals Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Graduating players Bonbon Batiller and Jerrick Balanza led the Knights’ balanced-attack with the former tallying 12 points, five rebounds, and two assists, while the latter notching 10 points and four caroms.

Most Improve Player Fran Yu came through once more as he punched in 10 markers, six dimes, three rebounds, and three steals, while Jeo Ambohot added nine points and four rebounds in the win.

“We’re happy for the win,” said Letran head coach Bonnie Tan as his squad dealt the Red Lions their first loss of the season.

“We were outrebounded in the first half yun yung ina-address namin at halftime.”

With San Beda leading by four points, 60-56 at the 4:44 mark of the fourth quarter, Yu and Balanza rose to the occasion and hit one three-pointer each in succession, with the latter hitting the last one that gave Letran a 62-60 buffer with 3:51 left in the back-and-forth contest.

Muyang then split his charities to extend the Knights’ lead to three points, 63-60, but this season’s Best Foreign Player Donald Tankoua had an inside incursion that pulles the Red Lions within a point, 63-62, at the 3:03 mark.

Yu located Muyang down low and the big man completed the alley-oop play for a 65-62 Knights cushion with 1:28 remaining, but Mythical Team member Evan Nelle got San Beda within a point anew as he scored on a bank shot at the 37-second mark.

After a botched possession by Letran, the Red Lions then had a chance to take the driver’s seat but Oftana missed the said trey which ultimately spelled the end of San Beda's 32-game winning streak dating back to last season.

Nelle cashed in 20 points and seven rebounds to pace the Red Lions, while James Kwekuteye put up 11 points, six rebounds, and two assists.

Oftana turned in 11 points and six caroms as Tankoua unloaded seven points, 13 rebounds, and two assists.

Game Two of the best-of-three Finals series is on Friday at the same venue.

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