Letran now dead serious on Final Four as Nambatac, Cruz say ‘wala nang biruan’
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Sep 26, 2015 01:45 AM
NO KIDDING. Letran looks like they're here to stay, already assured of at least a playoff for a Final Four spot.
For the first 34 minutes last Friday at the San Juan Arena, Colegio de San Juan de Letran looked set to continue their downward spiral with a third straight loss in the second round of the NCAA 91 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Then the Knights suddenly transformed into the dominant team that stormed the league with a 22-6 run in the endgame that put away Jiovani Jalalon and Arellano University. The dynamic duo of Mark Cruz and Rey Nambatac showed the way for the Intramuros-based squad with 20 and 21 points, respectively, and were quick to say that they did nothing but stick to their system to be able to move into a tie for first at 12-4.
When ABS-CBN Sports chatted with the two in separate interviews, however, it appears that Letran’s rediscovery of their winning form had a lot to do with their learnings from recent struggles. As Nambatac put it, “Sobrang sakit nung nangyari sa amin (back-to-back losses) kasi kung nanalo kami kahit isa lang dun, malamang ‘di na kami aabot sa ganitong point.”
He then continued, “Mula nun, sa practice, wala nang biruan. Kapag may nakita kaming kahit isa lang na ayaw magtrabaho, pinapagalitan naming lahat.”
Cruz only agreed with his backcourt-mate in saying, “Nung dalawang talo namin, nadala namin galing sa practice yung nagbibiruan kami at sumusobra yung fun. Ngayon, nire-remind namin ang isa’t-isa na kelangan naming seryosohin yung gameplan.”
As added motivation, the graduating guard also shared that he has kept reminding his teammates about the preseason predictions on Letran which had them, to put it nicely, far from the Final Four. “Lagi kong pinapaalala kung gaano kahirap yung pinagdaanan namin at hindi namin dapat sayangin kung paano kami nagsimula,” he said.
With the Knights assuring themselves of at least a playoff for a Final Four spot, Cruz admitted that some weight has been lifted off their shoulders. Still, he also exclaimed that they aren’t aiming to just make it into the playoffs by saying, “Ito pa lang yung start ng totoong laban. We’re aiming for twice-to-beat kahit siyempre, lagi namang sinasabi ni coach (Aldin Ayo) na one game at a time.”
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