SAN JUAN City – Defending champion Colegio de San Juan de Letran warded off a late fight back from College of Saint Benilde to prevail, 56-52, at the resumption of the 92nd National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the San Juan Arena Thursday (July 1). The Knights squeezed out fine performances from unlikely sources in crunch time for their second straight win after losing on opening day a week ago.
The Knights erected a 12-point lead on a point-blank stab by Felix Apreku with 5:54 left in the low-scoring affair, 52-40. Clement Leutcheu and Carlo Young then fuelled the Blazers’ rally, capped by a drive to the hole by Louie Pasamante to put them at their closest at the two-minute warning, 48-52.
Apreku and Pasamante then traded baskets to maintain the gap, but Pasamante was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul on Jomari Sollano in the ensuing sequence with still 14 ticks remaining. The Blazers received a glimmer of hope as Sollano muffed both his free throws but the Knights quickly wrote finish to the Blazers hopes as JP Calvo cut to the basket for an unmolested layup, 56-50.
“The good thing about this game is that we showed that our other players can contribute,” said Coach Jeff Napa. “In the end, it’s all about our defense.”
Sollano still emerged as the Knights’ best performer with 16 points and nine rebounds. Calvo and Bong Quinto followed with 11 points each to make up for the struggles of team leader Rey Nambatac who could only chip in eight markers.
Leutcheu paced the still winless Blazers with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Young and Christian Fajarito followed with nine markers each.
How They Scored:
LETRAN (56) – Sollano 16, Calvo 11, Quinto 11, Nambatac 8, Apreku 4, Balanza 4, Balagasay 2, Luib 0, Bernabe 0, de la Pena 0, Sario 0.
SAINT BENILDE (52) – Leutcheu 11, Young 9, Fajarito 9, Dixon 8, Pasamante 7, Sta. Maria 6, Haruna 2, Pajarillaga 0, JJ Domingo 0, Saavedra 0, San Juan 0, Castor 0, Belgica 0.
Period Scores: 13-9, 29-20, 43-35, 56-52.