After being down 64-54 with 5:11 remaining in regulation, third year guard Rey Nambatac put on a show to lead the Colegio de San Juan de Letran (CSJL) Knights in a huge 24-9 run in a 78-73 win over the Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons Wednesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
The Knights outworked the the Falcons in the opening quarter of the game. Even with Adamson holding a huge size advantage over their opponent, with the team starting with Matthew Aquino and the debuting foreign student athlete Papi Sarr, the Letran front court of Jomari Sollano and Felix Apreku outhustled their counterparts in boxing out and diving for loose balls. Moreover, excellent ball movement resulting to open shots for Rey Nambatac, Bong Quinto, and Sollano. The Knights held a 20 to 12 lead over the Falcons to end the first.
During the interval between the first and second quarters, Adamson head coach Kenneth Duremdes can be heard shouting “sige lang kayo ng sige! Gawin niyo naman ang sinasabi niyo.” This message prepped up the young Adamson squad into utilizing the height advantage they had. The Knights had no other recourse but to foul the big men of Adamson. Slowly, the Falcons were able to chip into the lead and eventually take the lead at 35-34 with 1:10 remaining in the second. During the stretch, the Knights committed eight fouls resulting to 18 free throw attempts and converting on 12. Guards Alwin Margallo and Jersey Pedrosa were aggressive on the drive as both scored 12 and 6 respectively at the half with Letran holding on to just a solitary lead 36-35.
In the third canto, the Adamson Falcons continued their barrage with Papi Sarr scoring 10 points in the quarter. JD Tungcab complimented the offense as well with his excellent drives that led to lay-ups. On the other end, the Letran offense stagnated due to them settling for the outside shot. The Falcons held a 57-52 lead entering the final frame.
With the lead of the Falcons going to as high as 64-54 with 5:52 remaining, largely in part to Tungcab, Rey Nambatac took over the game in scoring 15 points in the final five minutes of the game. After two free throws, Nambatac was able to force a turnover that led to a lay-up to cut the lead to just six. After an exchange by Dawn Ochea and Sollano, back-to-back baskets by Nambatac and Quinto cut the lead to just four with 3:05 remaining. The Letran defense then forced AdU to contested shots. Nambatac then scored on a three to take the lead 69-68. The Knights never looked back afterwards with the hotshot guard scoring five points in the final minutes of the game and hijack the game 78-73.
Coach Aldin Ayo was disappointed with how the officials handled the calls in the second quarter. “No comment ako diyan,” Coach Ayo told us. The stretch of eight fouls turned the tides of the game in favor of Adamson. “Kami isa sa pinakamaliit na team, ang speed namin ang advantage namin at kelangan namin mag work hard on the rebound,” Coach Ayo said with regards to the team’s size disadvantage.
Rey Nambatac scored 30 points to lead the team in the win. He shot 8 of 15 from the field while missing just one of his 12 free throw attempts. Frontcourt players Jomari Sollano and Bong Quinto scored 10 and 9 respectively to help the Letran cause. On the other side, debuting foreign student-athlete Papi Sarr had a monstrous double-double with 20 points and 19 rebounds. Alwin Margallo had 12 points as well.
As a team, Adamson shot better at 40% compared to Letran’s 38%. Moreover, the Falcons outrebounded the Knights by a huge margin 52-35. However, the Letran Knights had more points off turnovers with 19.
The CSJL Knights next face the CSB Blazers on Friday, May 29 at 3:15pm while the AdU Falcons play again on Saturday, May 22 against the NU Bulldogs.
CSJL 78 – Nambatac 30, Sollano 10, Quinto 9, Luib 8, Publico 6, Balanza 4, Apreku 3, Cruz 2, Calvo 2, Dela Pena 2, Bernabe 2, Balagsay 0
AdU 73 – Sarr 20, Margallo 12, Pedrosa 9, Pasturan 8, Tungcab 7, Ochea 6, Nalos 4, Gumtang 3, Aquino 2, Villanueva 2, Butron 0, Capote 0
|CSJL (A, 4-2)||20||36||52||78|
|AdU (A, 1-2)||12||35||57||73|