Knights cage Lions to stay unbeaten

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 16, 2015 08:22 PM
Knights cage Lions to stay unbeaten
STATEMENT VICTORY. Letran claimed a huge victory against archrivals San Beda.

As if their domination of Final Four hopeful Jose Rizal University wasn't enough, Colegio de San Juan de Letran hunted down the biggest predator in the 91st Season of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

The Knights imposed their helter skelter brand of basketball all over the floor to down five-peat champions San Beda College Red Lions in stunning fashion, 93-80, on Thursday at the San Juan Arena.

The Red Lions had no answer for what's becoming Letran's patented non-stop full-court press as they were held to only four points in the first seven minutes of action. The Knights' offense was just as strong as their defense and they rode a 31-point second quarter for a 52-32 lead at the half.

Art Dela Cruz spearheaded a rally that got San Beda to 66-72 inside the last five minutes and he also got the fifth and final foul of Rey Nambatac. Now without their top-gunner, however, the Knights simply called on the next man up and John Calvo responded with a huge triple that shot their lead back up to nine at 79-70.

Dela Cruz and the Red Lions kept coming 76-81 and had an even bigger opportunity with Letran guard Mark Cruz cramping up. Again, however, head coach Aldin Ayo confidently sent in one of his reserves and Macjour Luib did not let him down by fronting a 12-4 game-closing run.

Talking about their preparations, Ayo said in his post-win interview, "Sabi ko we'll stick with our strengths: pressure on defense and execution on offense."

Kevin Racal scored 20 markers and the Knights converted 22 turnovers into 26 points to rise to 3-0 and into a share of first with Perpetual.

Ola Adeogun and Art Dela Cruz had 20 and 18 points, respectively, but San Beda clearly missed the calming presence of Baser Amer who re-injured his right shoulder in the second quarter. The defending champions are 2-1 in the season.

BOX SCORES

LETRAN 93 - Racal 20, Cruz 16, Nambatac 13, Calvo 12, Sollano 10, Apreku 9, Luib 6, Quinto 5, Balanza 2, Balagasay 0, Publico 0.

SAN BEDA 80 - Adeogun 20, De La Cruz 18, Amer 10, Koga 7, Tongco 7, Tankoua 6, Cabanag 4, Mocon 4, Sorela 4, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0, Sedillo 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 21-15, 55-32, 67-53, 93-80.

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