Cruz, Knights rally past Stags to stay unbeaten

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 21, 2015 06:59 PM
Cruz, Knights rally past Stags to stay unbeaten
WINNERS NEVER QUIT. Letran stared down a 13-point disadvantage in the last eight minutes and still came out on top.

Colegio de San Juan de Letran have said they wanted chaos and with their most recent masterful victory, they sure shook the entire foundation of the 91st Season of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Facing adversity for the first time, the Knights proved their character by overhauling a 13-point deficit in the last eight minutes for a thrilling 82-76 come from behind victory against the San Sebastian College-Recoletos Golden Stags on Tuesday at the San Juan Arena.

Mark Cruz rained down 29 points, including six triples, to go along with five assists and seven steals to lead a 30-point final frame for the now 4-0 Knights.

San Sebastian's zone defense dared Letran to shoot from the outside or try and get the ball past their active arms. The scheme worked for the most part as the Stags outscored their opponents, 39-25, in the middle quarters.

The Recto-based squad was still in front, 66-53, inside the last eight minutes before the Knights' offense finally hummed alongside their non-stop full-court pressure with a 20-7 blast to tie the game at 73 with 1:35 remaining.

A beautiful stepback three from Jamil Ortuoste pushed San Sebastian back on top, but Cruz immediately responded with a four-point play to take a 77-76 lead for Letran with 54.1 ticks on the clock. The Stags were unable to add any more points as five straight markers from Rey Nambatac completed the comeback.

"Ngayon naman, pinakita namin yung puso namin," a proud Cruz said in their post-win interview.

Ortuoste scored 25 points, but only six in the second half. San Sebastian also turned the ball over 43 times to drop to 1-3.

BOX SCORES

LETRAN 82 - Cruz 29, Nambatac 20, Sollano 13, Quinto 9, Racal 7, Luib 2, Publico 2, Apreku 0, Calvo 0, Balagasay 0

SAN SEBASTIAN 76 - Ortuoste 25, Calisaan 16, Fabian 11, Costelo 10, David 6, Guinto 4, Sibal 2, Capobres 2, Sibal 0, Pretta 0, Vera 0

QUARTER SCORES: 27-23, 39-45, 52-62, 82-76

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