Letran back to first after Cruz sets off fireworks show

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 04, 2015 02:33 PM
Letran back to first after Cruz sets off fireworks show
ON FIRE. Mark Cruz hit eight three-pointers - the most of anyone in the season.

Throughout the 91st Season of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, “Ant-man” Mark Cruz has always been there to save Colegio de San Juan de Letran when their offense was unable to keep in step with their unforgiving defense.

Cruz was right there again on Friday at the San Juan Arena, and then some, as he rained down 17 of his 26 points in the last six minutes as the Knights fended off the Lyceum of the Philippines University Pirates, 74-57.

Letran managed to stay slightly ahead until the Pirates surged early in the final frame to snatch away the lead, 50-49. It was at that point that Lyceum collided with a much bigger tidal wave as Cruz had all but six points in a 23-3 charge that built a 72-53 advantage for the Knights with 1:53 remaining.

“Ant-man’s” fastbreak layup would have been the hightlight of Letran’s decisive run if not for the five long-range bombs he launched over the outstretched arms of various defenders. Cruz finished with 26 points, including a league-best eight threes, along with five assists and five rebounds to send Letran back on top of the standings at 10-2.

Talking about his fifth-year guard’s scorching day from the field, coach Aldin Ayo said in his post-game conference, “I’m not surprised. They’re going to step up every time they’re gonna zone us.”

Vic Nguidjol had 20 points and 15 rebounds was once again the catalyst for the Pirates’ late run which fell short to drop them to 3-9.

BOX SCORES

LETRAN 74 – Cruz 26, Racal 19, Sollano 10, Nambatac 9, Luib 5, Balagasay 4, Balanza 1, Apreku 0, Calvo 0, Quinto 0

LYCEUM 57 – Nguidjol 20, Baltazar 14, Lugo 6, Lacastesantos 4, Alanes 4, Ayaay 4, Bulawan 3, Taladua 2, Soliman 0, Marata 0, Mbida 0

BOX SCORES: 17-11, 28-25, 47-42, 74-57

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