Letran takes control from Lyceum in fourth to move to 7-0

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Aug 04, 2015 07:26 PM
Letran takes control from Lyceum in fourth to move to 7-0
HERO BALL. With Mark Cruz hurt, Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac led Letran to lucky win number seven.

“Ant-man” was hurting, fouls didn't let them get into rhythm, and Colegio de San Juan de Letran was far from its usual self in the First Battle of Intramuros in the 91st Season of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Getting inspiration from Atoy Co, however, head coach Aldin Ayo threw a monobloc chair towards the locker room to rile up his Knights who responded with the decisive 8-2 run for a 83-78 triumph over the gutsy Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates on Tuesday at the San Juan Arena.

Letran got off to a 16-6 start before Allyn Malabanan hit Mark Cruz on the nose. “Ant-man” was forced to sit out and the Pirates mounted a 22-6 run to take a 28-22 advantage late in the second.

Lyceum still held on to a 65-64 lead at the 7:20 mark of the final frame until a newly-reinserted Cruz punctuated a 7-0 burst with a three-point play and sent the Knights ahead, 71-65. The Pirates hit back-to-back baskets to close the gap to two points, but it was at that point that Ayo’s chair-throwing fit kickstarted Letran’s decisive run.

Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac scored 19 points apiece to carry the load in Cruz’s absence and the Knights again wreaked havoc by forcing 34 turnovers leading to 23 points. At 7-0, the victors in the First Battle of Intramuros have now matched their best start since 2013.

Asked if the close encounter meant anything, Ayo said in his post-game conference, “This school has suffered enough in the past two years for us to be complacent.”

Cameroonian Jean Nguidjol did everything he can with 22 points and 12 rebounds which still proved to fall short in stopping Lyceum’s sixth loss in seven games.

BOX SCORES

LETRAN 83 – Nambatac 19, Racal 19, Sollano 11, Quinto 9, Calvo 7, Luib 6, Cruz 5, Balanza 3, Balagasay 2, Publico 2, Apreku 0, Bernabe 0

LYCEUM 78 – Nguidjol 22, Ayaay 14, Sunga 11, Gabayni 9, Baltazar 6, Bulawan 4, Alanes 3, Mbida 3, Soliman 2, Lacastesantos 2, Lugo 2, Malabanan 0, Taladua 0

BOX SCORES: 19-12, 34-35, 57-55, 83-78

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