MANILA, Philippines – Colegio de San Juan de Letran escaped the clutches of the determined Lyceum of the Philippines University to remain unscathed with a 83-78 on Tuesday, August 4 at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
Kevin Racal and Rey Nambatac had 19 markers each to steer the Knights to their seventh-straight victory in the ongoing NCAA Season 91 men’s senior basketball tourney.
The Alden Ayo-mentored troop missed the services of reliable court general Mark Cruz in the first half after being hit accidentally by an elbow.
Despite ending the first period with a 19-12 advantage, Letran struggled in the second quarter, where Lyceum spearheaded a 22-6 run with Jean Nguidjol and Richmon Sunga leading in forefront of the blitz.
Racal and Nambatac tried to tie the regulation before halftime, but the charities of Nguidjol and Sunga provided a one-point cushion, 35-34.
Although Racal quickly grabbed the lead with a three-pointer and floater, the Pirates switched back the momentum to their side with Nguidjol’s putback and Mer Ayaay’s bullet pass to Joseph Gabayni, 41-39.
Gabayni, who serves as a tailback muscle to Nguidjol in the shaded area, was ejected from the game at 4:22 of the third frame when he unintentionally landed an elbow to Nambatac.
With Nguidjol alone in the paint, it allowed the Knight to attack the basket as Kier Quinto and Jerrick Baltazar pressed the gas pedals with their fastbreak layups, 57-55.
After several switches of leads on the scoreboard, Lyceum started to collapse in the fourth canto due to Letran’s suffocating man-to-man defense and had trouble traveling the ball to their court.
With Cruz returning late in the same quarter to take charge of the playmaking duties, Jomari Sollano was able to convert 8 points, while Racal drilled a beyond-the-arc shot, 76-69.
Sollano followed up Racal’s trifecta with his own long-range jumper from downtown with 3:10 remaining in the contest.
In the dying minutes, Lyceum only trailed by a single-digit deficit as Nguidjol and Sunga never gave up and pushed the pace, but Nambatac’s freethrows sealed the deal for Letran.
With the impressive victory over Lyceum, Letran improves its record to 7-0 and remains on top of the team standings.
On the other hand, Lyceum drops to 1-6 as the maroon-and-gray troop was led by Nguidjol, who amassed 22 markers and 12 boards.
Letran (83) – Nambatac 19, Racal 19, Sollano 11, Quinto 9, Calvo 7, Luib 6, Cruz 5, Balanza 3, Balagasay 2, Publico 2, Apreku 0, Bernabe 0
Lyceum (78) – Nguidjol 22, Ayaay 14, Sunga 11, Gabayni 9, Baltazar 6, Bulawan 4, Alanes 3, Mbuda 3, Soliman 2, Lacastesantos 2, Lugo 2, Malabanan 0, Taladua 0
Quarter scores: 19-12, 34-35, 57-55, 83-78