The Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights entered Game Two knowing their defense is their key to the championship. However, last Tuesday afternoon, the stingy Letran defense was not there. Yes, they were able to force the San Beda Red Lions to 30 turnovers, but the Mendiola Cagers were still able to shoot 56% from the field.
As they say, one’s defense will lead to the offense. Even when the Knights grabbed a whopping 18 boards that was vital in them attempting 83 field goal attempts in the game, the Muralla Street-based squad only made a measly 29% of those attempts from the field.
The mood in the Letran lockerroom was somber according to the Letran skipper, but he said that he had taken it as a responsibility to cheer his troops in times like these. “Siyempre malungkot but as a leader kelangan ko sila i-cheer up,” he said.
According to Cruz, the pressure of closing out the series in two games got the best of the team. “Ganun pa rin pero kelangan nila tanggalin yung pressure sa kanila. Kasi mahirap naman talaga magseal ng series,” he disclosed. He sees the loss as just a roadblock to their road to end Letran’s ten-year odyssey. “Marami talagang iniisip e, so kelangan muna namin dumaan sa mga process bago manalo. So, kelangan namin tanggalin yung pressure.”
Cruz even admitted that even when we saw a composed “Ant-Man” on the court, he was also affected by the pressure. The fifth year spitfire guard led the Knights in scoring a team-high 21 points. A slow start by Cruz led to a dismal shooting night though, as he shot just 10/27 from the field. “Oo e. Kahit ako medyo bad start. Nung second quarter lang nakabawi.”
He further added that the pressure might have contributed to the bad outing of junior guard, Rey Nambatac. Rambatac was held scoreless even when attempting six field goal attempts and free throw attempts. “Hindi ko masabi pero baka. One of the factors siguro yung pressure,” he remarked about the struggles of his backcourt mate.
For Cruz though, the team cannot be down as Game Three was less than 48 hours away from the time he spoke with Tiebreaker Times. He vows that the Letran community will see a much more composed Letran squad, and that the team will bounce back hard.
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