Colegio de San Juan de Letran completed a season sweep of San Sebastian, 82-67, in Season 88 action of the NCAA at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The presence of Raymond Almazan and the consistency of Kevin Alas powered the Knights to a pulsating fourth quarter onslaught that led to their ninth win, enough to momentarily assure them of the fourth spot.
Letran improved to 9-6 while San Sebastian dropped their fourth game, settling for an 11-4 win-loss slate. However, the Stags remain in solo second.
The Knights also won their first round encounter with the Stags, 80-74, on opening day.
Alas was on fire in the first half as he finished with 17 points after the first two quarters but the Knights still trailed the Stags by a hairline at the intermission. Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva carried the load for the Stags in the first two quarters.
A close third period had the Knights gaining control of the game, with Kevin Racal stepping up in the absence of the foul-troubled Alas. Racal poured 10 of his 18 points in the third quarter where the Knights gained the momentum going into the fourth.
“It was a hard-fought game. I want to give credit to Kevin Racal dahil if he plays well, maganda din ang nilalaro ng team. He’s like our barometer,” said coach Louie Alas of Letran.
“Yung turnover namin, maliit lang kaya nakitang kong malaki ang chance namin today. Si Kevin (Alas), lahat ng klase ng denial binigay sa kanya kaya pinullout ko nung second dahil nangigigil.”
It was a one-sided game in the fourth, with the Knights outscoring the Stags, 23-10. Credit goes to the balanced scoring attack of Alas, Racal and Mark Cruz in the payoff period where Letran established its biggest margin of 16, 81-65, with 2:36 remaining.
Alas, who is coming off a career-high 35 points in their previous game, scored a team-high 23 points today. He is currently averaging 29 points per game in their last three outings.
The Knights, who clinched their third consecutive win, had Jam Cortes and Almazan crash the boards for 12 rebounds apiece.
“Si Raymond, nung pagkabalik nya, hinahanap ng points ng mga tao. Last year, nag-Mythical Team yan pero di naman dahil sa points kung hindi dahil sa rebounds and blocks nya. Kaya ang sabi ko nung bumalik na sya, basta rumebound ka lang,” said the Letran coach about Almazan, who is playing his way back after almost two months on hiatus.
Abueva finished with a double-double line of 27 points and 18 boards with Sangalang adding 15 points and 14 rebounds but it was not enough to tow the Stags to their twelfth win.
The saw eight deadlocks and twenty lead changes.
Letran is now half a game ahead of Jose Rizal University, who is closely behind them in the standings with an 8-6 record. But coach Alas said downplayed playoff talk at the moment.
“We’re not talking about the final four yet. Nung nanalo kasi kami sa opening game, grabe yung naging expectations.”
Letran (82) — K. Alas 23, Racal 18, Cruz 14, Cortes 10, Almazan 7, Lituania 6, Belorio 2, J. Alas 2, Luib 0, Gabriel 0.
San Sebastain (67) — Abueva 27, Sangalang 15, Miranda 9, Pascual 6, Gusi 4, Dela Cruz 3, Juico 2, Antipuesto 1, Rebollos 0, Binuya 0.
Quarterscores: 17-19, 34-35, 59-57, 82-67.
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