Knights live to fight another day
Rey Nambatac delivered in the clutch as Letran secured a playoff for the last semifinals spot.
Rey Nambatac isn’t ready to hang his Letran jersey up just yet.
With the Knights clinging on a precarious two-point lead with less than 20 seconds left in the game, the graduating player completed a crucial three-point play to keep Letran in the thick of the battle for the remaining 93rd NCAA seniors basketball competition semifinals berth.
The Intramuros-based squad escaped with a 66–60 win against an upset-conscious College of St. Benilde to secure a playoff for the remaining semis ticket, Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Nambatac gave Letran a 64-59 lead with 18.1 seconds remaining on a put-back after JP Calvo missed on a fastbreak layup attempt before calmly sinking the bonus freethrow.
Calvo sealed the game with two more shots at the foul line as Letran equaled its Season 92 win-loss record of 9-9 tied with Arellano University. The two teams will face each other in a playoff for the last semis berth on Friday or for the first playoff stepladder match in case San Sebastian College (8-9) defeats also-ran Perpetual Help on Thursday.
“A win is a win pero hindi kami pwedeng lumaro ng ganito sa coming playoff,” said Letran coach Jeff Napa. “Hindi kami pwedeng lumaro ng ganito kasi Arellano is very dangerous.”
“Kung gusto naming mag-succeed at umabot kami sa next phase ng tournament, kailangan lahat kami maglaro ng A-game,” he added.
Nambatac finished with 18 points while grabbing nine rebounds, dishing out five assists and a steal for the Knights. Calvo had 16 while Jerick Balanza and Jeo Ambohot scored 13 and 10, respectively.
CSB closed its season with a 4-14 slate.
Clement Leutcheu had 18 points to lead the Blazers.
LETRAN (66) - Nambatac 18, Calvo 16, Balanza 13, Ambohot 10, Quinto 7, Balagasay 2, Bernabe 0, Caralipio 0, Gedaria 0, Mandreza 0, Pamulaklakin 0, Taladua 0, Vacaro 0.
ST. BENILDE (60) - Leutcheu 18, Pili 16, Sta. Maria 6, Castor 4, Dixon 4, Mercado 4, Domingo 3, San Juan 3, Velasco 2, Johnson 0, Naboa 0, Suarez 0, Young 0.
Quarter scores: 20-11, 28-28, 48-43, 66-60.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles