In the San Beda-Letran rivalry coaching debut of San Beda head coach Jamike Jarin and Letran head coach Aldin Ayo, it was Ayo’s tenacious defense that overcame Jarin’s blitzing offense, 93-80, to give the Red Lions their first loss in the early stages of the tournament.
The tight full court press of the Knights gave them an early 12-2 lead that stunned the San Beda faithful. The lead further extended in the second quarter after Jarin fielded a three guard line-up of Ranbill Tongco, Ryusei Koga, and Jeramer Cabanag and with Donald Tankoua anchoring the defense. “It backfired nung start. I take all the blame for that. The combination I put in the floor during the second quarter did not mesh well. As a result, Letran benefited from that,” Coach Jarin admitted. Entering halftime, the Knights were surprisingly up by a huge margin, 52-33.
Moreover, besides the one game suspension of Dan Sara, Baser Amer re-aggravated his already injured right shoulder. But for the multi-titled champion coach it is not an excuse. “It’s part of the game and our players step-up for each other all the time.”
All throughout the game, coach Aldin Ayo confused the San Beda offense by employing traps and pressure defense. “I have to give credit to Letran. They were really pressuring us.” The undersized Knights line-up outrebounded the defending champions 45-39. In addition, the Knights were able to convert 26 points out of the 22 turnovers of the Morayta-based squad.
During the fourth quarter, the Red Lions were able to cut the lead to five points with two minutes remaining. Ola Adeogun, Art dela Cruz, and Koga sparked the rally. Moreover, their aggression resulted to Rey Nambatac and Jomari Sollano fouling out. The rally, however, fell short as turnovers and missed shots plagued the defending champions. Eventually, Adeogun fouled out with 20 points (7/10 FG, 6/8 FT), seven rebounds, and three blocks. “When we were able to get back, they hit some tough shots. They hit back-to-back three pointers. I have to give credit for that. It killed any momentum we had,” he told us.
For Jarin, he hopes that this loss will bring the fire back in his team. “One good thing about it, we played bad but we still had a chance to turn it around. We just ran out of time. Hopefully this becomes a learning experience for us to make us better for the rest of the season.”
Finally, coach Jarin told us that the team needs to work on their defense and ball movement to keep their six-peat dreams alive. “We just need to get better. We need to move the ball better. Play tougher. We need to be imposing on defense.”
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