Rhenze Abando flaunted his entire arsenal in his NCAA Final Four debut while Fran Yu showed that he is still a big-time player.
The soon-to-be-crowned Season 97 Most Valuable Player flaunted his entire arsenal while the Season 95 Finals MVP provided the heroics, leading Colegio de San Juan de Letran to a 77-75 escape of University of Perpetual Help System DALTA to advance to the best-of-three finals, Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in Pasay City.
Abando ended up with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting with three rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block while Yu scattered 13 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal.
“Alam naman nila na yung opportunity to shine or to deliver sa ganitong klaseng laro is important for their careers dahil dito nakikita yung galing nila sa mga knockout games, sa mga crucial games,” said Letran head coach Bonnie Tan.
But the Knights needed big stops and a little bit of luck to stave off the gallant Altas.
Up by as many as nine points, Letran saw its lead vanquish as the Altas were able to tie things up at 73-all with under three minutes left.
Yu, a pint-sized guard out of Tondo, showed no fear, driving to the lane and scoring on a tough and-one over Jielo Razon to give the Knights a three-point edge.
“That’s Fran Yu eh. Sa mga endgame, yun yung specialty niya,” said Tan.
Jeff Egan tried to lift the Altas, scoring on a floater to cut the lead down to one.
However, the Altas could not find the rim to close out the game.
A sorry miss by Paraiso led to a wide-open triple attempt for Kris Pagaran that missed. Then, after a split on the stripe by Yu, Razon missed a left elbow three as time expired on their season.
The Knights will ride a 10-game winning streak heading into the finals which begin on May 15 still at the same venue. The defending champions will await the winner of the Mapua-San Beda series.
Ambohot, the runner-up in the MVP race, added 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Knights while Paraiso had a solid line of seven points, seven rebounds, and four steals as well.
Despite the loss, it was still an amazing season for the Altas who rose from the play-in stages, eliminating Arellano University and College of Saint Benilde to punch their Final Four ticket.
Razon led the Altas with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists while Egan added 14 points. John Abis added 11 markers while Mark Omega hauled down 10 boards as well.
Kim Aurin, who still has one year of eligibility left, missed his second straight game due to chickenpox.
Letran 77 — Abando 24, Ambohot 14, Yu 13, Paraiso 7, Sangalang 7, Olivario 5, Javillonar 4, Reyson 2, Mina 1, Caralipio 0, Fajarito 0.
Perpetual Help 75 — Razon 21, Egan 14, Abis 11, Pagaran 8, Omega 7, Boral 6, Barcuma 4, Cuevas 4, Martel 0, Kawamura 0, Sevilla 0.
Quarterscores: 20-17, 36-39, 62-55, 77-75.