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Tiebreaker Times


Nambatac career-high powers Letran past EAC

The Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals are tougher than what pundits perceived them to be during the pre-season. Just ask the defending NCAA champions.

The Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights needed every point from Rey Nambatac’s career-game and multiple clutch defensive stops as the cagers from Muralla Street were able to escape the Generals, 76-72, Tuesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.

Rey Nambatac, after tallying 21 points in the first half, finished the game with a career-high 33 points on 13-for-22 shooting, five rebounds, and two dims. Bong Quinto bounced back from a horrible shooting game as well in scoring 17 markers on an efficient 7-for-11 clip.

“Given naman yung performance ni Rey. Good thing na lang natapos niya yung game,” Letran head coach Jeff Napa said about Nambatac. “Yun naman yung importante at happy ako for Rey. Na-settle down na niya sarili niya at hindi na siya gigil.”

After a slow start, the Knights were able to gain a 62-51 lead entering the final frame. The defending champions though struggled on both ends to start the final quarter as the Generals went on a 7-0 spurt capped by a find by Jorem Morada to Francis Munsayac for a wide-open triple.

“Pinagalitan ko sila,” Napa shared after calling for a timeout. “Ang maganda sa mga batang ito, alam nila yung gagawin nila kapag nagalit na ako.”

Nambatac drained back-to-back triples after the timeout to again extend Letran’s lead to eight, 70-62, with 4:15 left in the game. However, the Generals, unlike their teams from seasons past, did not go down easily. Baskets by Munsayac, Laminou, and Morada cut the lead to just two points with 2:34 left in the game.

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Big man Jom Sollano was able to answer right back for Letran afterwards to score two straight baskets but Morada was able to find his way inside for a sick reverse layup to keep EAC alive. A turnover by Nambatac led to a basket for Laminou to cur the lead to just two, 74-72, with 1:03 remaining.

“Kita niyo naman tintrabaho talaga ng boys yung rebounding,” Napa shared. “Hindi lang naman si Rey ang player ko e.”

“I give credit to guys like Felix [Apreku] who are giving the intangibles. Kulang na lang halikan niya yung import sa kabila e. Wala kong masabi dun sa bata.”

Felix Apreku was able to anchor Letran’s defense in the clutch including an excellent challenge on a Morada drive that led to a wide-open fastbreak layup for JP Calvo with 9.8 ticks remaining that sealed the game for the Knights.

“A win is a win, although it’s an ugly win, credit to the boys,” Letran head coach Jeff Napa said after the game. “They refused to lose. At least naisip nila na kailangan nilang dumepensa.”

For the Generals, Hamadou Laminou continued his stellar play in notching a double-double with 23 points and 18 boards. Igee King and Francis Munsayac added 13 markers each.

The Letran Knights (1-1) look to start a win streak as they face the Benilde Blazers on Friday, July 1 at 2:00pm. On the other hand, the EAC Generals (1-1) take a long break before facing the San Beda Red Lions on Tuesday, July 12 at 2:00pm.

The Scores:

CSJL (76) – Nambatac 33, Quinto 17, Balanza7, Sollano 6, Apreku 4, Calvo 4, Luib 2, Balagasay 2, Dela Pena 1, Sario 0, Bernabe 0, Ambohot 0, Vacaro 0.

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EAC (72) – Laminou 23, King 14, Munsayac 14, Morada 10, Onwubere 4, Pascua 3, Corilla 2, Diego 2, Neri 0, Serrano 0, Guzman 0, Estacio 0, Aguas 0, Mendoza 0.

Quarterscores: 15-10, 41-34, 62-51, 76-72.

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