Letran ambushes San Beda to move a win away from NCAA 95 title

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 12, 2019 05:54 PM
Letran ambushes San Beda to move a win away from title
(Photo by Arvin Lim)

Not only has Colegio de San Juan de Letran drawn first blood in the Finals, it has also dealt San Beda University its first defeat in the NCAA 95 Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Building on their momentum from their big-time playoff wins, the Knights had all the answers for their archrival Red Lions for a thrilling 65-64 triumph, Wednesday at MOA Arena.

Fran Yu played big in the endgame as his assist and rebound in the last two minutes sealed the deal in sending Letran one win away from an improbable championship at the expense of San Beda which had swept the elimination round and automatically advanced into the Finals.

The fierce foes were going at it all game long, but it was actually the three-time defending champions who were on top, 60-56, inside the last five minutes until Yu and Jerrick Balanza hit back-to-back triples and Larry Muyang split from the stripe to, all of a sudden, boost their team ahead, 63-60.

Donald Tankoua pulled the Red Lions within one, 62-63, before the two teams traded defensive stops.

Then at the 1:26 mark of the final frame, Letran's point guard lobbed the ball up top to Muyang who then shot the ball off the board and into the net.

Still, San Beda yet again threatened at 64-65 with 37.5 ticks to go thanks to Evan Nelle and had a golden opportunity to make something happen, but Season MVP Calvin Oftana missed his triple try.

Yu was in the right place at the right time and hauled in the rebound and was sent to the line with 2.4 seconds left.

There, he missed the first and intentionally muffed on the second to see time run out and hear the final buzzer sound.

It was at that point that the Knights celebrated a shocking takedown of their erstwhile undefeated archrivals.

In the end, their second-year playmaker had 10 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds while Bonbon Batiller and Balanza cihmed in 12 and 10 markers, respectively.

Letran is out to write its storybook ending in Game 2 on Friday still at the same venue.

Of course, that's easier said than done as the Red Lions are certain to bounce back following their very first taste of defeat in the season.

Nelle topped the scoring column for them in this one with 20 points while James Canlas and Calvin Oftana chipped in 11 markers apiece.

BOX SCORES

LETRAN 65 - Batiller 12, Balanza 10, Yu 10, Ambohot 9, Muyang 7, Reyson 7, Mina 3, Ular 3, Caralipio 2, Sangalang 2, Balagasay 0, Olivario 0.

SAN BEDA 64 - Nelle 20, Canlas 11, Oftana 11, Tankoua 7, Soberano 6, Bahio 4, Doliguez 3, Etrata 2, Abuda 0, Cuntapay 0, Alfaro 0.

QUARTER SCORES: 17-18, 28-32, 47-44, 65-64.

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