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Is the House of Chaos in disarray?

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After a first round surge that saw the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights coast with a 7-1 record, the cagers from Muralla Street are struggling to find their bearings in the second round of the NCAA Seniors’ Basketball tournament.

During the first round, the pressing defense of the Aldin Ayo-mentored squad were winning by an average of 9 points per outing and were the third-best defensive squad in the league in giving up just 71.38 points per game. The former league-leaders entered the second round with targets on their back. “Ang hirap na manalo ngayon. Everyone is gunning for us,” coach Aldin Ayo even quipped during the team’s win against Benilde last September 10.

In the second round, the Knights are just 3-3 in six games, as the once stingy defense fell to just a plus-4 point differential. The production from ace scorer Rey Nambatac fell while stoppers like Felix Apreku and Jomari Sollano saw a decrease in minutes due to foul trouble. As a result, veterans Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal are carrying the team on both ends of the court.

King Knight Mark Cruz saw an increase in minutes and in production due to the dropping norms of his teammates. After averaging 14.75 ppg, 3.63 apg, 2.63 spg, 3 threes per game in 27.8 minutes of action in the first round, “the Antman” has upped has upped his ante to 18.20 ppg, 3.93 apg, 2.4 spg, 3.47 conversions from downtown in 29.73minutes.

After falling to the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers last September 18, a game that saw the Heavy Bombers shoot 70% from the field at one point, the Knights held an emergency players’ meeting right after the game. The shocking loss affected the morale of the team according to Cruz. “Sobrang tahimik lang,” he said about the meeting.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Is the House of Chaos in disarray?    As the captain of the team, the pint-sized guard is keeping the emotions of his team in check especially now that another loss can send them spiraling out of the Final Four. “Sa ganitong situation we just have to stick together,” the pro-bound Cruz remarked. “Darating talaga ito. Yun lang talaga, pinakaimporte sa amin is that we stick together.”

According to Cruz, the problem is that they are currently not sticking to the basics of coach Ayo’s system. “Makikita naman sa results. I mean kung maglalaro kami ng within the system, maganda dapat resulta. Ngayon, medyo nalilito lang siguro pero maaayos din naman.” Moreover, he added that on defense the pressure defense is not consistent for 40 straight minutes – which was the decree of Coach Ayo from the start. “May mga possession na nagugulo namin pero we just have to be consistent on that.”

Even if he thinks that the team’s problems is stemming from the inside, Cruz still credits the opponents’ preparation every time they face Letran. “Siyempre nagscouscout yung mga team. Siguro napaghandaan kami pero kung kaya naman mabasa yung ginagawa nila mas maganda [para sa amin],” he told Tiebreaker Times. “Ang importante talaga is mag stick kami sa system namin. Dun kami umangat sa system namin.”

“We just have to play lang talaga na laro namin. Hopefully next game, maka-bounce back,” Cruz closed.

The Letran Knights have a week to get their bearings back before their big game against the Arellano Chiefs on Friday, September 25 at 2:00pm.

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