The last time Letran star Kevin Alas played against San Sebastian at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum, he scored 31 points.
With the Knights and the Stags tangling at the same venue on Saturday, Alas did one better, sizzling for 43 points on 10 three-pointers to lead Letran to a dominant 92-74 victory over San Sebastian in the NCAA Season 88 semifinals.
The Letran win forced a do-or-die game between the two teams for the last finals berth on Monday. Earlier, San Beda defeated Perpetual Help to book the first seat in the title round.
“Pinaka-game plan naman namin is one game at a time. Sigawan talaga kami sa practice nitong nakaraan na linggo. Dahil sa panalo, nag-payoff naman lahat ng hirap na ginawa namin sa isang buong linggo ng practice,” said Alas, who had 22 points at halftime.
Alas’ total was the highest output in the NCAA since John Wilson scored 48 points for Jose Rizal University in August 2009.
“Nung rookie year ko, sabi nila, slasher lang ako. Wala akong tira sa labas. Kaya yun nag-motivate sa akin to work hard and mag-improve. Ngayon, consistency na lang ang kailangan ko ma-prove,” said Alas.
The Knights raced to a 27-7 lead in the first quarter courtesy of 13 points from Alas. The Stags cut the deficit to 16 points, 35-19, before Alas hit three straight three-pointers in a 9-2 run to push the lead to up 22, 43-21.
Letran entered the second half with a comfortable 46-28 lead after holding San Sebastian star forward Calvin Abueva to just four points in the first two periods. The Stags tried to threaten back, cutting the lead to 16 on Abueva’s three-point play, 51-35, before Alas scored eight straight points to push the Letran lead back to 24.
San Sebastian tried to wake up in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to just 13 points on a layup by Abueva, 71-58. But Alas scored three three-pointers and a layup in a devastating 14-4 run that put the game away.
“I’m happy about the win, but I’d be happier if mangyayari ulit ito sa Monday. I already told the boys right after that we will have a very hard game on Monday so forget about this game and we’ll start working for Monday,” said Letran coach Louie Alas, Kevin’s father, who celebrated his birthday last Wednesday.
“Consistency is what we want to work on. Parang scenario last year, kami ulit ng San Sebastian pero kung mag-deja vu, sana with a different result, na kami naman ang makapasok ng finals.”
Alas had plenty of help, as the diminutive guard scored 20 points while Kevin Racal added 10 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists for Letran.
Abueva finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Stags, who were missing Ronald Pascual due to suspension. Ian Sangalang added 13 points.
Letran (92) — K. Alas 43, Cruz 20, Racal 10, Lituania 8, Belorio 4, Gabawan 4, Cortes 3, Almazan 0, J. Alas 0, Luib 0, Pantin 0.
San Sebastian (74) — Abueva 21, Sangalang 13, Juico 10, Dela Cruz 8, Rebollos 6, Miranda 6, Maiquez 5, Gusi 3, Vitug 2, Antipuesto 0, Binuya 0, Dones 0.
Quarters: 27-7, 46-28, 69-48, 92-74