Arellano University handed Colegio de San Juan de Letran its first loss in three years in the NCAA Seniors Basketball Tournament after a, 72-69, upset in Season 98 on Sunday at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan City.
This was Knights’ first defeat since Season 95, when they lost to San Beda Red Lions in Game Two of the Finals, 76-79.
“Ay sobra, sobrang saya,” expressed Chiefs head coach Cholo Martin. “Sabi ko kasi sa mga players ‘napakasarap maglaro kapag ‘yung kalaban mo defending champion, yung malalakas na team. Doon lalabas ang laro niyo. Sumunod lang kayo kung ano sistema natin, baka sakaling manalo.”
Letran was in cruise control following a King Caralipio bucket, which gave the Knights a commanding 55-42 cushion with 2:13 left in the third quarter.
Arellano then initiated a 27-5 run to take the advantage at the payoff period, capped by Shane Menina’s two free throws. That gave them their biggest lead at 69-60, with 2:33 left.
The Knights, though, were able to trim the deficit to 69-71. Fran Yu then made 2-of-3 free throws with 17 seconds remaining in the contest.
However, Axel Doromal split his own charity stripe to earn the 72-69 advantage.
Down by 69-72 with 2.7 seconds remaining, Kurt Reyson tried to force the game into overtime for the second time in a row.
Unfortunately for Reyson, the ball went in and out as the Chiefs escaped the Knights.
Four Chiefs scored double digits in the game. Cade Flores scored 18 points, built on six-out-of-13 from the field, with nine rebounds. Doromal produced 14 points, five rebounds, and two assists, while Wilmar Oftana got 13 points and five boards.
Joshua Abastillas scored eight of 10 points in the fourth quarter. He also had three rebounds, and one steal. Menina provided 10 assists and seven points.
On the Letran side, meanwhile, Louie Sangalang was a monster in the rebounding department for the Knights. He had 16 rebounds together with 19 points built on eight-out-of-nine shooting from the floor. Caralipio added 16 points, and 13 boards.
Reyson, who scored 31 points a game prior, saw himself only limited to two points in the game.
Next up for Arellano (3-1) is Jose Rizal University (1-2) on Wednesday at 3:00 PM. Meanwhile, Letran (1-1) will try to bounce back against College of St. Benilde (2-0) on Friday, 12:00 NN.
Arellano (72) – Flores 18, Doromal 14, Oftana 13, Abastillas 10, Menina 7, Talampas 4, Mantua 2, Mallari 2, Sunga 2, Tolentino 0, Oliva 0.
Letran (69) – Sangalang 19, Caralipio 16, Paraiso 8, Yu 8, Javillonar 8, Santos 3, Guarino 3, Ariar 2, Reyson 2, Olivario 0, Tolentino 0, Monje 0, Miclat 0, Lantaya 0.
Quarterscores: 12-11, 30-34, 47-56, 72-69