Once again, the ragtag Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights continued to slay the league’s giants as they handed the San Beda Red Lions their first loss of the season via a 93-80 win earlier at the Filoil Flying V Arena.
Kevin Racal led the Knights with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists while Mark Cruz followed up with 16 points 7 rebounds and 7 assists. In addition, Rey Nambatac chipped in 13 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
On the other hand, Ola Adeogun and Art Dela Cruz were the only bright spots for the Red Lions as the former managed to tally 20 points and 7 rebounds, while the latter had a double-double outing with 18 points and 14 rebounds to go along with 6 assists.
Right from the start, the Knights immediately went to work and established a 12-2 lead midway through the opening canto. San Beda then answered back with some timely shots to trim their deficit to 21-15 to end the first quarter.
The Red Lions continued to dissect the Knights in the second quarter by relying on their zone defense to force turnovers. After Baser Amer trimmed the score to 31-25 at the 6:17 mark, Letran countered back with a massive 15-6 run to take a 46-31 lead which was capped off by a couple of long bombs from Rey Nambatac.
The problem of the Red Lions were compounded as lead point guard Baser Amer, who had already played 13 minutes in the game and scored 10 points, re-injured his shoulder after an unsportsmanlike foul on a fast breaking Mark Cruz. Amer would not return to the game. The bleeding for San Beda didn’t stop at the point as Letran’s suffocating pressure defense forced easy transition buckets leading to a 52-33 lead at halftime.
The third quarter was pretty much the same story as Letran continued to hound San Beda with their patented fullcourt pressure. San Beda also attempted to take out Letran’s rhythm by matching their physicality but the Knights held to preserve their huge lead.
Entering the fourth quarter comfortably with a 67-53 lead, the game seemed to be a job well done for the Knights but San Beda had other plans in mind as they slowly chopped the opposition’s lead. Dela Cruz jumpstarted a series of San Beda scoring spurts which saw the Letran lead toned down to 83-76. Late in the game, third year guard Rey Nambatac fouled out and Mark Cruz suffered from cramps. Moreover, rookie big man Jomari Sollano also fouled out resulting into an undermanned Letran squad. Fortunately for the Muralla-based squad, Racal would answer every crucial San Beda bucket with timely hustle points in preserving the Knights’ lead. In addition, defensive stops by former Squires McJour Luib and JP Calvo helped seal the win for the Knights, 93-80.
After the game, rookie head coach Aldin Ayo opened up about the preparations he did for this huge rivalry game. “That was the most difficult preparation we had. Nung ten day break, almost six times ko pinanood ‘yung mga laro nila. Nung last Monday hindi ko pa alam ang gagawin ko,” he said. He then said that why change something that is not broken. “I decided that we will stick with our gameplan, yun na yun. ‘Yung pressure on defense and execution on offense.”
Moreover, Coach Ayo said that the defense he employed was what confused the Red Lions on offense. “Sa Sorsogon may kasabihan kami: malipat sa dagat. That means misdirection. We want our opponents to keep on guessing. The switching on defense, that was misdirection.“
As a team, Letran shot a whopping 48% from the field compared to a 41% shooting clip from San Beda. Even though the Red Lions forced the Knights to more turnovers, Letran was able to convert better off of turnovers with 26 turnover points. Moreover, the smaller Letran squad outrebounded San Beda 45-39.
CSJL (3-0) will next play the SSC-R Stags (1-1) on Tuesday, July 21 at 4:00pm while SBC (2-1) will look to bounce back against the LPU Pirates (1-2) in the first game of the same day.
CSJL (93) – Racal 20, Cruz 16, Nambatac 13, Calvo 12, Sollano 10, Apreku 9, Luib 6, Quinto 5, Balanza 2, Balagaysay 0, Publico 0
SBC (80) – Adeogun 20, Dela Cruz 18, Amer 10, Koga 7, Tongco 7, Tankoua 6, Cabanag 4, Mocon 3, Solera 4, Reyes 0, Bonsubre 0, Presbitero 0, Sedillo 0
Quarters: 21-15, 52-33, 67-53, 93-80.
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