The Letran Knights whipped the Arellano University Chiefs, 77-68, on Friday to remain unbeaten in six games in the 91st National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament elimination round at The Arena in San Juan City.
Kevin Racal, Rey Nambatac and Mark Cruz employed explosive offense and tight defense to post the big win and keep the solo top spot.
The Intramuros-based Knights also defeated five-peat champion San Beda Red Lions 93-80 on July 16, the Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas 79-71 on July 23 and the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers 78-62 on July 3.
Letran enjoyed a 14-point lead, 62-48, going into the pivotal period. Racal led the Knights with 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Nambatac fired 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Cruz had nine points.
With the loss, the Arellano Chiefs dropped to a three-way tie at the third position with the Jose Rizal Heavy Bombers and Perpetual Help Altas, all bearing 4-2 win-loss cards.
In the other game, the Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals beat the San Sebastian College Stags, 77-71, to finally enter the win column.
Laminou Hamadou finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Sidney Onwubere finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds to secure their first victory in six matches. The Generals, the Lyceum Pirates, the saint Benilde Blazers and the San Sebastian Stags are all carrying similar 1-5 cards.
“It’s like we were having a fiesta here. We made several adjustments especially in the crucial stretch because that’s where we usually lagged behind. We have plenty of bad habits. We really gave at least one day break to talk about those bad habits,” said EAC coach Andy de Guzman.
Francis Munsayac contributed 11 points and five rebounds plus three steals while Raymund Pascua scored eight for the Generals.
Michael Calisaan finished with 19 points, Jon Kervin Ortouste settled with 17 and 12 each from Ryan Costelo and Bradwyn Guinto for the Stags.
In the third match, Mapua Institute of Technology Cardinals crushed the Lyceum of the Philippines Pirates, 109-95, to post their third win against three losses occupying the solo sixth spot.
Allwell Oraeme topscored for the Cardinals with 26 points and 20 rebounds, while Josan Nimes scored a career-high 24 points to help established a 43-point lead, 64-21, with just 1:21 remaining in the second canto.
But the Pirates fought back strong in the second half to reduce their foes lead to only six points, 95-101 via Shaquille Alanes’ two free throws with only 1:01 to go. Alanes led the Pirates with 27 points, Mer Jesper Ayaay scored 22 and Wilson Baltazar 14.
The Pirates’ explosive rally alarmed Mapua coach Fortunato “Atoy” Co, took off his shirt in protest of the referee’s call. Co was ejected from the court for his action, the first coach to be penalized this season.
In the high school matches, Michael Enriquez scored 27 points as the Mapua Red Robins trounced the Lyceum Junior Pirates, 76-64. Mapua now moved to the second spot with 5-1 card. The Emilio Aguinaldo Brigadiers routed the San Sebastian Staglets, 81-67, improving their win-loss card to 2-4.