The Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights may have put the past behind them.
The defending NCAA champions cooled down the streaking San Sebastian College-Recolestos Golden Stags, scoring a 73-61 win, to go back to an even slate Friday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Rey Nambatac led the Knights with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting. He added six rebounds and two steals to his statline. JP Calvo put up 16 points as well.
“Hindi ko muna iniintindi yung mga nasa itaas namin. Ang iniisip ko muna yung mga sarili namin,” Letran head coach Jeff Napa said, as his team are just two full games behind JRU in the standings. “So, it’s better to perform muna at bahala na kung saan kami aabutin.”
Calvo scored eight points in the third frame, helping Letran gain a game-high 14 point lead, 53-39, late in the third frame.
Michael Calisaan tried to lift his team back in the final frame. The 21-year-old big man cleaned up a miss by RK Ilagan to score his eighth point of the quarter to cut the lead to just six, 65-59, with 2:20 remaining.
However, baskets by Jon Sollano and Bong Quinto, and sorry misses by the cold Stags, ended San Sebastian’s hopes of extending their streak to five.
Felix Apreku almost notched a double-double for Letran with nine points and 12 rebounds.
For the Stags, last season’s Most Improved Player Michael Calisaan scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Ryan Costelo added 12 minutes.
The missing piece for the Stags was rookie RK Ilagan. After scoring 25 points in San Sebastian’s win over Lyceum, the Bulacan native was shut down by Calvo, scoring just a solitary point.
“Siguro, tinrabaho ko lang ang pinapagawa sa akin ni coach,” Calvo said.
The Letran Knights (6th, 7-7) look to keep their Final Four dreams alive on Tuesday, September 6, as they face the Perpetual Altas (T-2nd, 10-3) at 4:00pm. The San Sebastian Stags (9th, 5-10) face the hapless Benilde Blazers (10th, 0-14) on Thursday, September 8, at 4:00pm.
CSJL (73) – Nambatac 16, Calvo 16, Apreku 9, Quinto 9, Sollano 8, Ambohot 5, Bernabe 5, Balanza 4, Luib 1, Balagasay 0, Sario 0.
SSC-R (61) – Calisaan 24, Costelo 12, Capobres 7, David 6, Bulanadi 5, Baetiong 2, Sera Josef 2, Valdez 2, Ilagan 1, Gayosa 0, Quipse 0, Calma 0, Mercado 0, Fabian 0.
Quarterscores: 15-15, 36-28, 53-41, 73-61.