NCAA 95: Letran's dream season turns into reality with first title since 2015
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Nov 19, 2019 06:13 PM
(Photo by Arvin Lim)
It took a little longer, but Colegio de San Juan de Letran did finish what it had started in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Finals.
With Jerrick Balanza showing the way, the Knights have charged through all the obstacles, first and foremost now-dethroned champion San Beda University in a well-earned 81-79 Game 3 win, Tuesday at MOA Arena.
Balanza and company were already on the verge of an improbable championship last Friday, but Bonbon Batiller's missed reverse layup and Fran Yu's untimely cramps failed to give them enough finishing kick in Game 2.
There was no such thing this time around as the graduating guard waxed hot all throughout with 27 points built on five triples to go along with seven rebounds and three assists while Batiller and Yu bounced back big-time with the former finishing with 19 markers, five boards, three dimes, and two steals and the latter ending with eight points, seven assists, five rebounds, and three pilfers.
Larry Muyang and Ato Ular also helped with the heavy lifting and ultimately, helped bring back the trophy to Intramuros for the first time since 2015.
It definitely didn't come easy as just like Games 1 and 2, the fierce foes went at it all game long.
When the Red Lions were threatening at 73-76 inside the last two minutes, however, Balanza hit a booming triple that spurred Letran to a six-point lead.
Evan Nelle yet again pulled the red and white within three with his own booming triple, but Yu converted his couple of charities on his way to being hailed as Finals MVP.
Still, San Beda wasn't done as its primetime playmaker had another trey up his sleeve to shoot them within three and, at the other end, they forced the Knights to an error.
In the pivotal play of the season, the Red Lions yet again went to Nelle who rose to launch another long-range missile only for the ball to get sandwiched between the hands of Balanza and King Caralipio.
With that, Letran claimed its second championship at the expense of its archrival in the last four years.
Along with that, this championship denied San Beda yet another four-peat even though it had swept the elimination round and automatically advanced into the Finals.
The Red Lions’ second-year guard wound up with 11 points, nine assists, and six rebounds as "Bandana Bro" James Canlas also added 11 markers and seven boards of his own.
Donald Tankoua then had 22 points and seven rebounds in his last game in red and white while Season MVP Calvin Oftana chimed in 18 markers and eight boards.
LETRAN 81 - Balanza 27, Batiller 19, Ular 9, Yu 8, Muyang 6, Mina 6,Caralipio 4, Ambohot 2, Balagasay 0, Olivario 0, Javillonar 0, Sangalang 0.
SAN BEDA 79 - Tankoua 22, Oftana 18, Canlas 11, Nelle 11, Doliguez 11, Carino 3, Soberano 3, Bahio 0, Abuda 0, Visser 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 26-24, 44-38, 69-59, 81-79.
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