Knights eliminate Chiefs

Colegio de San Juan de Letran regained its rhythm in the second half, as it eliminated Arellano University, 97-84, in Season 95 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) seniors basketball tournament on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

The Knights pulled away in the third quarter then repulsed the Chiefs’ late fightback, snapping a two-game losing skid and solidifying their hold of No. 3 with an 11-6 record. The win allowed Letran to put its Final Four bid back on track.

“Like what we’ve said, it’s time to come back after that back-to-back losses. We didn’t have enough preparation because of the schedule but that’s the challenge for us,” said Letran head coach Bonnie Tan.

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Letran’s Fran Yu scores with a layup against Justin Arana of Arellano during a Season 95 NCAA seniors basketball game on Thursday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City. PHOTO BY JOHN ORVEN VERDOTE

“I just told the boys to have a mindset that we should not lose,” added the veteran tactician. The win was a morale booster after Letran’s two straight defeats to powerhouse teams San Beda University and Lyceum of the Philippines University.

Graduating guard Bonbon Batiller paced the Knights’ balanced assault with 18 points on an efficient 6-of-10 field goal shooting while frontliners Larry Muyang and Jeo Ambohot contributed 15 markers apiece on top of a combined 11 rebounds.

Allen Mina shone with 12 points and a plus 41 efficiency while Jerrick Balanza and Fran Yu chipped in 11 markers each.

Letran’s tight defense fueled a 25-10 run that turned a 55-56 deficit into a commanding 80-66 lead at the end of the third period.

Muyang sank a layup and a free throw to hand the Knights their biggest lead, 83-66, early in the final frame before the Chiefs mounted a fightback, 84-91, behind Justin Arana with less than two minutes left.

Time was not on Arellano’s side, however, as Muyang scored via short stab off Fran Yu’s pass, 93-84, practically sealing the win with 1:06 remaining.

Arana had 19 points and veteran guard Kent Salado had 18 markers but were non-bearing in the second half for the Chiefs that bowed out of semis race with a 4-12 slate.

Earlier in juniors play, Arellano and San Sebastian High School boosted their Final Four chances after beating their respective foes.

The Braves took down Letran, 65-59, behind Chris Recto’s 25-point, 10-rebound double-double to tighten their grip of No. 2 with a 9-6 record.

On the other hand, the Golden Stags slipped past Jose Rizal High School, 94-91, to earn a share of No. 3 with Lyceum High School on a similar 8-6 sheet.

The Light Bombers dropped to No. 6 with a 7-7 record while the Squires stayed at No. 7 with a 7-9 card.

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