In their first meeting in 892 days, the Knights gave archrivals Red Lions a painful loss.
Colegio de San Juan de Letran escaped with a 59-56 victory over San Beda University to complete its elimination round sweep of the NCAA Season 97 Seniors Basketball Tournament on Friday at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
It was a back and forth final frame between the two heated rivals.
The turning point though came with 5:43 remaining that saw James Canlas get a tech while the Red Lions were holding on to a 51-47 lead.
It gave the Knights an added boost as it was able to keep pace with the Red Lions.
Two pressure-packed free throws by key Letran transferee Rhenz Abando gave his side a three-point lead with 16 seconds left.
In the ensuing play, Peter Alfaro missed a corner triple. Though rookie Tony Ynot was able to secure the board, his three attempt also missed as time expired.
“This is one of the objectives, pero yung goal natin gusto nating mag-champion,” said Knights head coach Bonnie Tan.
Abando got 10 points, seven assists, two assists, and a block while Louie Sangalang got 12 points and two blocks.
Fran Yu was solid as well, posting a line of seven points, five rebounds, five assists, and three steals while Jeo Ambohot grabbed 13 points, swatted away four shots, while scored seven as well.
While Letran secured top seed with a pristine 9-0 mark, San Beda, who is out of the top two for the first time in 17 years, will now have to go through the wringer just to get to the semifinals.
Despite having the same 7-2 slate with Mapua University, the Cardinals own the tiebreaker over the Red Lions by virtue of their 68-54 win six days ago. It dropped San Beda to the third seed and will have to face Saint Benilde on Sunday to clinch their final four spot.
A San Beda loss will drop them to the final play-in game — either against Perpetual Help or Arellano. Another defeat there will end their Final Four hopes.
Canlas led the Red Lions with 14 points and seven rebounds. JV Gallego got seven points — all in the first half — while JB Bahio was limited to just four points and seven rebounds.
Letran 59 — Sangalang 12, Abando 10, Fajarito 9, Yu 7, Ambohot 7, Mina 5, Javillonar 4, Reyson 2, Paraiso 2, Olivario 1, Caralipio 0.
San Beda 56 — Kwekuteye 14, Gallego 7, Cortez 6, Ynot 5, Penuela 5, Bahio 4, Amsali 4, Jopia 4, Sanchez 3, Alfaro 2, Cuntapay 2, Abuda 0, Andrada 0, Cometa 0, Fornis 0.
Quarterscores: 15-15, 26-29, 45-39, 59-56.