Letran avenged its first round loss to Jose Rizal University with a convincing 70-59 victory in NCAA Season 88 action Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The win gave the Knights third spot in the standings after lifting their win-loss record to 10-6, while the Heavy Bombers fell to fifth place at 9-7.
Letran still has a shot at finishing second, which comes with it a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals, if San Sebastian loses its remaining games.
Kevin Alas finished with 17 points, six rebounds, six assists, and six steals, while Jam Cortes added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Letran, which used a furious second-half rally to turn back JRU.
The Heavy Bombers led by 11 points, 32-21, late in the second quarter after a three-pointer by Byron Villarias. JRU used a 9-0 third quarter run for its biggest lead, 45-33, capped by another Villarias three-pointer.
But Letran unleashed a 20-3 stunner behind Kevin Racal, Raymund Almazan, and Jonathan Belorio to give Letran a 53-48 lead to end the third quarter.
Knights coach Louie Alas praised his team’s poise in the face of a deficit.
“Nung pre-game, yun talaga ang ini-instill ko sa kanila, na whatever the situation is, dapat nandun ang poise and patience. Kung wala kami nung pasensya nung third quarter, wala dapat kami dito,” he said.
Almazan, who missed the first meeting between the two teams, was a big factor in the Letran comeback before fouling out in the fourth quarter
“Malaking tulong sa amin si Raymund, and nandun na din kasi ang teamwork namin. Kahit na foul out sya, ang daming nag-fill-in sa gap na naiwan niya,” said Letran team captain Jam Cortes.
Letran hounded JRU star Nate Matute to a single point. Villarias took up the cudgels for the Heavy Bombers, scoring 20 points.
The elder Alas said the team is concentrating on finishing the eliminations campaign strong.
“We just want to thank God for this and sana manalo ulit kami sa Saturday. Kapag dumating naman, dadating yan. We’ll just have to win our remaining games. Even if sabi, one foot is in already for us sa final four pero we still don’t want to talk about it,” he said.
Letran (70) — K. Alas 17, Cortes 16, Racal 14, Belorio 9, Almazan 8, Lituania 6, Cruz 0, Luib 0, J. Alas 0, Gabriel 0.
JRU (59) — Villarias 20, Lopez 14, Dela Paz 10, Mendoza 4, Maconocido 3, Mabulac 2, Salaveria 2, Monserat 2, Porter 1, Matute 1, Camasura 0, Carampil 0.
Quarters: 16-20, 33-36, 53-48, 70-59.
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