Letran makes Finals once more after claiming classic from Mapua

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 20, 2015 05:17 PM
Letran makes Finals once more after claiming classic
GOOD AND LUCKY. The breaks of the game went Letran's way and helped them make their way back into the Finals.

Good shot attempt from Exi Biteng, ball goes in and out. Rebound by Rey Nambatac, JP Nieles forces a jumpball. Another good shot attempt from CJ Isit, ball still goes in and out.

Mapua Institute of Technology was given all the chances they needed to stay alive in the NCAA 91 Men’s Basketball Tournament, but it was Colegio de San Juan de Letran which proved steadier, and luckier, in the endgame as they took the biggest Battle of Intramuros in years.

Graduating players Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz merged for all but two of the Knights last 10 points as they endured the Cardinals in a classic, 91-90, on Tuesday at the MOA Arena.

In a back and forth affair, Racal and JP Calvo gave Letran an 85-81 advantage with 2:22 remaining before Allwell Oraeme lifted the Cardinals to only 85-87. A split from the line by Racal then increased the Knights’ lead to 88-85 inside the final minute.

It was at that point that Mapua designed a play for Biteng who managed to launch a high percentage shot only to see the ball go around the rim and then fall out. Nambatac collared the rebound, but Nieles held the ball down to force a jumpball situation.

The Cardinals still found nothing despite the extra possession and at the other end, sent Cruz to the line. “Ant-man” uncharacteristically muffed both free throws and Mapua found another good look, this time for Isit, only to see the ball go around the rim and then fall out once again.

Racal was fouled and converted both of his charities and at the other end, the Knights closed off on all shooters. Oraeme’s putback, Racal’s split from the line, and Isit’s last-gasp triple pushed the Cardinals to only a solitary point behind, but time expired before a miracle came.

Cruz and Racal ended with 24 and 19 points, respectively, as Letran booked a return to the Finals after a one-year absence. After expressing joy in the accomplishment, coach Aldin Ayo reminded everyone in his post-game conference, “Masaya tayo ngayon, but we have a job to do. We want the championship.”

Josan Nimes had 15 points in his last game for Mapua.

BOX SCORES

LETRAN 91 - Cruz 24, Racal 19, Sollano 16, Nambatac 12, Quinto 10, Calvo 4, Preku 3, Luib 3, Balanza 0, Publico 0.

MAPUA 90 - Biteng 17, Nimes 15, Menina 15, Isit 11, Oraeme 10, Nieles 10, Serrano 10, Braña 2, Aguirre 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 21-17, 45-42, 67-70, 91-90.

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