Racal shoots Letran over San Beda in Game 1 classic

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Oct 23, 2015 08:03 PM
Racal shoots Letran over San Beda in Game 1 classic
KNOCKDOWN. Letran is one win away from ending San Beda's five-year reign.

While they once again had no answer for Ola Adeogun, Colegio de San Juan de Letran made good on the extra special backup they had in Game One of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Finals.

Filled with the fighting spirit of the eight-division world boxing champion who was right in the middle of their huddles, the Knights were just a little better from the three-point and free throw lines to prevail in a shootout against the San Beda College Red Lions, 94-90, on Friday at the MOA Arena.

With team manager Manny Pacquiao making his first appearance on their bench, Letran avoided the slow starts that have doomed them in the archrivals’ past two meetings. Nonetheless, the Intramuros-based squad was unable to pull away and the contest was knotted at 85 with two minutes remaining.

Kevin Racal then scored four straight points to give the Knights a four-point cushion before Adeogun buried two charities for a tally of 89-87 with 26.1 ticks to go. The Lions opted to send to the line Mark Cruz who uncharacteristically split his freebies.

Getting the rebound, San Beda’s Nigerian center took the ball down the court by himself and got stripped of it. Racal claimed possession and immediately got the ball to Cruz who then made two free throws to give Letran a 92-87 lead with 14.4 seconds left.

Dan Sara drilled a triple to still keep things interesting, but in the ensuing play, Rey Nambatac broke free from the clutches of Baser Amer to put the game away with a layup.

Racal poured in 28 points while Nambatac, Cruz, and Luib merged for 51 markers as the Knights moved a win away from their first championship since 2005. Talking about the hunger exhibited by his veterans, coach Aldin Ayo said in his post-game conference, “They have suffered enough. Lahat ng Letran, we don’t want to feel that again.”

Adeogun remained a force down low with 23 points and 16 rebounds, but the Lions sorely missed Amer and Art Dela Cruz who combined for only 15 markers while missing 11 of their 16 field goals.

BOX SCORES

LETRAN 94 – Racal 28, Nambatac 18, Cruz 17, Luib 16, Sollano 9, Quinto 4, Balagasay 2, Apreku 0, Balanza 0, Calvo 0

SAN BEDA 90 – Adeogun 23, Koga 10, Sara 10, Soberano 9, Amer 8, Tankoua 8, Dela Cruz 7, Tongco 5, Mocon 4, Sorela 4, Presbitero 2, Cabanag 0, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Sedillo 0

QUARTER SCORES: 22-21, 39-41, 61-62, 94-90

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