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Still unsolved! Letran keeps perfect record intact



The Letran Knights continue to be a puzzle that has yet to be solved.

The Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) Knights maintained their unblemished record in the 91st season of the NCAA in slaying another contender, the Arellano University (AU) Chiefs, in a 77-68 win early Friday evening at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.

The Chiefs, after going up in the early goings of the opening quarter, could not find any answer to the pressure defense employed by the Knights. Letran forced Arellano to 14 first half turnovers, majority coming from clogging the passing lane that resulted to easy transition points. In addition, the “big men” of the Knights crashed the boards hard as Felix Apreku and Jomari Sollano, together with guard Rey Nambatac, outrebounded the frontline of the Chiefs 19-16.

On offense, co-captain Kevin Racal, even in playing out of position at the four spot, was all over the floor in scoring from both the outside (two three pointers) and the inside as he scored 11 points in the first half. Rey Nambatac also made up for the off shooting night of Mark Cruz in scoring eight points. For the Chiefs, Smart Ambassador Jiovanni Jalalon was limited to just four points in and was forced to commit four turnovers. Big man Julius Cadavis paced the Chiefs in the first half with seven points in just three minutes of action as the Knights led by ten, 42-32, after the first half.

In the third canto, the Legarda Street-squad blasted a quick 8-0 run as Allen Enriquez pounded the paint and Donald Gumaru converted on jumpers. The run was stopped as Jomari Sollano converted on from the inside coming from a give-and-go play with Mcjour Luib. The Knights continued to crash the boards as the Chiefs could not box out the active rebounders of Letran all throughout the quarter. In addition, Arellano was ajlready in the penalty at the 6:28 mark of the quarter resulting to ten free throw attempts by the league leading squad. Kevin Racal also continued his splendid performance in scoring four of the team’s last nine points to give the Knights an 14 point lead, 62-48, to enter the final quarter.

“The Canadian Gunslinger” Zachary Nicholls tried to stage an Arellano comeback in scoring five straight points to open the fourth. The run was capped with a huge three pointer to cut the lead to just nine. After a quick timeout by coach Aldin Ayo, Jerrick Balanza was able to convert on free throws while, on the defensive end, a three point attempt by Nicholls was blocked by Balanza that led to an easy Racal basket. Nicholls was able to respond with another three pointer but a costly foul by Cadavis on Nambata, who was attempting a three pointer, negated the three pointer. After another three pointr by Nicholls at the 2:02 mark that cut the lead to just six, 74-68, Mark Cruz, who was just 1/16 from the field, converted on a clutch three pointer at the top of the key to ice the game. Free throws by Cruz at the closing seconds gave Letran a 77-68 win to keep its perfect record intact.

“It’s getting tougher and tougher,” admitted Letran coach Aldin Ayo after the game. “I thought that San Beda and Perpetual are tough but Arellano was the toughest since their point guard [Jio Jalalon] can match-up with our point guard.” He added that there was an added emphasis on halfcourt execution during their practices for this game.

Kevin Racal played his best game of the season in scoring a season-high 24 points on 9/21 shooting and added five rebounds. Smart Elite ambassador Rey Nambatac scored 13 points with nine coming from the free throw line and was active on the board in grabbing ten. For the Arellano Chiefs, Zachary Nicholls had 14 points but was just 5/17 from the field. Smart Elite Ambassador Jio Jalalon, who was crowded with double teams all throughout the game, had 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals but committed five turnovers.

As a team, the Knights shot a poor 33% from the field but more than made up for it in shooting 36 free throw attempts and converting on 27. Arellano also committed a season high 39 fouls in the game.

The Letran Knights [6-0] will face the Lyceum Pirates [1-5] on Tuesday, August 4 at 4:00pm while the Arellano Chiefs [4-2] looks to bounce back against the UPHSD Altas [4-2] on Thursday, August 6 at 4:00pm.

The Scores:
CSJL (77) – Racal 24, Nambatac 13, Sollano 12, Cruz 9, Luib 5, Apreku 4, Balanza 4, Publico 4, Quinto 4, Quinto 2, Calvo 0.
AU (68) – Nicholls 14, Cadavis 12, Jalalon 10, Holts 10, Enriquez 8, Gumaru 5, Salado 5, Bangga 4, Ongolo-ongolo 0, Ortega 0, De Guzman 0, Zamora 0, Tano 0.
Quarterscores: 21-16, 42-32, 62-48, 77-68.

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AJ Mandani sparks Singapore in win over Joshua Munzon-led Westsports



Back to his role as the sixth man of the Slingers after two games, AJ Mandani provided the firepower needed by Singapore in a fourth quarter surge to stop the Westsports Malaysia Dragons, 93-85, Sunday afternoon at the MABA Stadium in Malaysia.

The win arrested the Slingers’ two-game losing streak, raising their slate to 6-6. Westsports, a team coming off a two-game winning streak that included a 91-87 win over Mikey Williams and the Saigon Heat last January 18, fell to 3-5.

Struggling in the first three quarters, Mandani six of his eight points in the final frame. And those points were povital in fending off Westsports.

With Singapore clinging to a solitary point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Filipino-Canadian scored four straight points 8-0 run to gain a 74-67 lead with under seven minutes left. Another basket by Mandani followed it up with a breakaway layup with with 5:18 remaining to give Singapore an 81-72 cushion.

Filipino exports Joshua Munzon and Patrick Cabahug tried to rally the home team back as a triple by the latter cut the lead down to just three with 1:40 on the clock. Big buckets by Delvin Goh and Chris Charles sealed off the Malaysia-based club team.

Munzon went just 5-for-18 from the field to finish with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Cabahug chipped in eight points on 3-for-4 shooting off the bench.

Xavier Alexander led Singapore with 33 points while Charles tallied a double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds to go along with three swats. Singaporean Goh had 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Marcus Marshall paced Westsports with 22 points, playing all 40 minutes as fellow World Import AJ West had a tough outing.

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Impervious Lady Chiefs stay perfect after sweep of Lady Pirates



The Arellano University Lady Chiefs extended their winning streak to 17, dating back to last season, after clobbering the Lyceum of the Philippines Lady Pirates, 25-16, 25-17, 25-11, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The defending champions were unrelenting, with four Lady Chiefs scoring in double-digits. Rookie Necole Ebuen powered in 11 points. Third-year open hitter Regine Arocha and Arellano’s middle blockers Mary Anne Esguerra and Andrea Marzan each provided 10 markers.

Conversely, no Lady Pirate managed to score in double-figures.

“Maganda naman talaga ang nilalaro ng mga bata. Lahat kasi kami determinado na makakuha ulet ng championship. Alam nila (Lady Chiefs) na kailangan pataas nang pataas ang ginagalaw namin,” said Arellano head coach Obet Javier.

The Lady Chiefs also limited their errors to a season-best 16, while the Lady Pirates surrendered 24 miscues.

Christine Miralles and Monica Sevilla each supplied the struggling Lyceum with eight point apiece.

The Lady Chiefs will look for their sixth win of the season when they face the red-hot University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (4-1) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. The Lady Pirates (1-4) take on the undefeated San Beda College (4-0) on Wednesday also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

AU (3) – Ebuen 11, Arocha 10, Esguerra 10, Marzan 10, Prado 3, Ramirez 3, Liu 2, Balanoba 1, Donato 1, Verutiao 0, Buemia (L), Flores (L)

LPU (0) – Miralles 8, Sevilla 8, Juanilla 7, Patio 4, Genova 1, Romanban 0, Bongabong 0, Marcella (L)

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Late whistle costs San Beda against Sousse, drops Red Lions to 0-2



23 for 2023 cadet Robert Bolick is averaging 27.5 points per game in the tournament

After struggling to close out the UAE National Team in their opener last Friday, the San Beda College Red Lions figured in a late judgment call that did not fall into their favor, Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai. Due to this, the defending NCAA Champions lost to Tuniasian club team Sousse, 78-79.

With the loss, the Red Lions fell to a 0-2 hole in the 29th Dubai Basketball Championship. But the record does not reflect how the Filipinos played.

Robert Bolick, who scored 28 points against the UAE National Team, led the charge for San Beda in their second outing with 27 points. Fellow 23 for 2023 cadet Javee Mocon added 11 points and seven rebounds.

Sousse — the second-best club team in Tunisia, who boasts four national team players and an American import — led by as much as 10 points, 70-60 in the final frame.

Fired up by the Filipinos who stormed the venue, the Red Lions answered right back with an 18-8 run capped by a booming Bolick triple with six ticks left to gain a 78-76 lead.

However, a foul was called on a Red Lion on a three-point attempt by a Sousse player. He calmly sank all three free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Donald Tankoua had eight points and 13 rebounds as he was saddled with foul trouble all throughout the game.

The Tunisian club team was paced by Radzhouane Slimane with 18 points, while Ibrahim Nadarri and Joshua Cassady had 13 markers each.

San Beda will have a one-day break before taking on Moroccan club team Al Sale on Monday, January 22.

The Scores:

San Beda 78 – Bolick 27, Mocon 11, Tankoua 8, Noah 8, Toba 6, Soberano 6, Prebitero 4, Tongco 4, Bahio 2, Carino 2, Oftana 0, Adamos 0.

Sousse 79 – Slimane 18, Naddari 13, Cassady 13, Mouhli 11, Knioua 9, Toumi 8, Monastiri 4, Gaddour 3.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 36-39, 57-62, 78-79.

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Perpetual overpowers JRU to keep pace for Final Four



Strutting their decisive height and power advantage, the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Lady Altas slammed the Jose Rizal University Lady Bombers, 25-21, 22-25, 25-14, 25-21, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Altas were still heavy-handed with their errors, surrendering 35 miscues, including 12 in the second set — the only frame they lost.

The Las Piñas-based program, however, kept a scorching offensive pace, bombarding the Lady Bombers with six blocks and 12 aces. JRU had just five points combined from those categories.

“Mataas pa talaga ‘yung tendency ng mga bata mamigay ng mga puntos. Sabi ko nga hindi kami mananalo kung tutulungan pa namin ‘yung kalaban maka-score,” rued Perpetual head coach Michael Cariño.

“Pero, unti-unte namang gumaganda ‘yung galaw ng mga bata. Lahat naman ng pagkukulang nila, tinatrabaho namin para maayos sa ensayo,” the champion mentor added.

Perpetual’s six-foot-three middle blocker Lourdes Clemente towered over the Lady Bombers with a season-high 19 points which included 14 attacks, two blocks, and three aces. Winger Cindy Imbo added 15 points.

Rookie Dolly Versoza paced the Lady Bombers with a game-high 21 points, while captain Shola Alvarez managed 15.

The Lady Altas (4-1) take on the undefeated defending champs Arellano University (5-0) on Tuesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre. The Lady Bombers (2-3) face the College of Saint Benilde (3-1) on Wednesday, also at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

The Scores

UPHSD (3) – Clemente 19, Imbo 15, Sangalang 8, Llorente 7, Tripoli 7, Gual 6, Versoza 2, Umandal 1, Estanislao 0, Medalla (L)

JRU (1) – Versoza 21, Alvarez 15, Ebuenga 5, Montojo 2, Rivera 2, Sibangan 1, Bodiongan 0, Macaraya (L)

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