Wearing the number 7 of fallen Knight Jerrick Balanza on their sleeves, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights played inspired basketball to rout the Arellano University Chiefs, 99-82, Thursday evening at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
“Dinededicate namin ito kay Jerrick. Alam niyo naman yung nangyari sa kanya at birthday rin niya ngayon,” shared third-year Knights head coach Jeff Napa, as Balanza – who is set to go under the knife tomorrow after being diagnosed with a brain tumor – celebrated his 22nd birthday today.
With this, Letran drew several inspired outings from their core.
Graduating senior Bong Quinto led the charge with 26 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds. He went 10-for-14 from the field as well.
Burly big man Larry Muyang had 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting, while floor general JP Calvo added 20 markers on a 60-percent shooting clip.
“Medyo yung panalong ito malaking bagay para sa amin,” added Napa, as the Knights were able to go up to 7-3, tied with the CSB Blazers while keeping pace with league-leaders Lyceum Pirates and San Beda Red Lions.
After a strong start by the Knights, Michael Canete and Archie Concepcion linked up to rally the Chiefs back in the second frame and knot things up at 44-all entering the second half.
Canete and Concepcion finished with 17 markers each for the now 4-6 Chiefs.
“Nag-relax kaya nagalit ako, pero nag-step up naman sila kaya nakuha rhythm at nakuha namin yung panalo,” recalled Napa.
Calvo answered right back in the third canto, before Quinto and Bonbon Batiller closed things up for the Knights, as the two combined for 22 of Letran’s 34 fourth quarter points.
Batiller had 11 points, while Christian Fajarito finished with 12 rebounds and nine points.
Ian Alban and Rence Alcoriza had twin outings of 12 points each on 5-for-9 shooting.
Letran will next face arch-rivals San Beda Red Lions on Tuesday, September 11. Arellano, on the other hand, look to snap their skid when they take on the San Sebastian Golden Stags on Friday, September 14.
CSJL 99- Quinto 26, Muyang 23, Calvo 20, Batiller 11, Fajarito 9, Ambohot 5, Taladua 4, Agbong 1, Celis 0, Mendreza 0 Yu 0, Pambid 0, Banez 0
AU 82- Canete 17, Concepcion 17, Alban 12, Alcoriza 12, Villoria 10, dela Cruz 8, Segura 4, Sera Josef 2, Bayla 0, Codinera 0, Ongolo Ongolo 0, Sacramento 0, Santos 0
Quarterscores: 22-17; 44-all; 65-58; 99-82