Letran guard Kevin Alas finally did what he failed to do in their last outing – take charge down the wire.
The Colegio de San Juan De Letran Knights broke out of their three-game slump after thumping Mapua, 66-60, in their first round encounter in Season 88 of the NCAA.
Alas finished the game with 21 huge markers, along with nine boards and seven assists, as the Knights claimed their second win against three losses.
Mapua absorbed their second straight defeat even with a complete lineup after Gab Banal, Jessie Saitanan, Mark Braña and Joseph Eriobu joined the Cardinals. After the eligibility meeting Monday morning, the four rookies were given the official green light to suit up.
A close first half had both squad scouting each other, with the first two quarters ending in a deadlock.
In the third, the Knights played tight defense, limiting the Cardinals to just six points. Letran managed to keep the Cardinals scoreless in the first six minutes before Kenneth Ighalo finally broke through for Mapua at the 4:06 mark.
Entering the fourth armed with an eight-point advantage, Alas, together with Kevin Racal and Carlo Lituania, spearheaded an 11-2 run that gave the Knights their widest margin of 17, 56-39, with 6:26 left.
But the Cardinals chipped away at the lead, cutting the Knights’ lead down to 62-54 with 1:25 left. Mike Parala suddenly threw a prayer from beyond the arc that cut down their deficit to five, 57-62, and Josan Nimes added another bucket that brought down their deficit to its lowest at three, 59-62.
Jumel Chien attempted to snatch the leather from Alas but failed.
Alas and Marc Cruz each sank two free throws to seal the win.
“Hindi na kami sa X and O’s. It’s a great win for us. At least na-break na ang slump.” Said Letran coach Louie Alas after getting their second victory.
It took the Knights three weeks and three losses before they finally won again.
“I just hope we keep on winning.” Added Alas.
Mike Parala had another explosive performance of 15 points and ten boards but it wasn’t enough to give Mapua its third win. Kenneth Ighalo added 14 points and eleven boards.
Letran (66) – K. Alas 21, Belorio 12, Cortes 12, Racal 8, Lituania 5, Gabawan 4, Cruz 2, J. Alas 2, Pantin 0.
Mapua (60) – Parala 15, Ighalo 14, Chien 10, Nimes 7, J. Banal 6, Saitanan 3, Estrella 3, G. Banal 2, Stevens 0.
Quarterscores: 17-16, 31-31, 45-37, 66-60.